Comic book writer Gene Luen Yang talks about race, creativity, and oh, how he just won a GENIUS Grant

Comic writer Gene Luen Yang’s work may put mythology center stage, but his recent achievement is no work of fiction. The comic book author was recently selected as a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius’ Grant, which celebrates individuals who have shown “exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future.

In an interview with Vulture, Yang said, "I think it's time to say that comics are legitimate, period." He went on to add that comics have won a lot of important awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, Caldecott Honors, and other top literary prizes. "If you're still turning your nose up at them, you're in the minority."

Yang, whose previous and current works grapple with social identity, explore Chinese and Chinese-American identity of both past and present. Best exemplified in New Super-Man, Yang explores what Gizmodo writer Evan Narcisse calls “a modern-day, media-obsessed exploration of how a Superman gets super with a totally different set of cultural influences.”


The influence of blended culture, which he puts at the forefront of works such as American Born Chinese, pushes Yang to tell a story that is a piece of the puzzle of the Asian-American experience. With these influences in mind, Yang’s approach to a classic story like Super-Man is through the lens of Clark Kent being an “immigrant who can pass“.

We’ve seen this emergence of Asian-American stories in other mediums, such as Fresh Off the Boat and Master of None, so we’re excited to see what Yang has in store for the future. With his on-going Secret Coders series and the latest incarnation of the Super-Man story, we’ll meet you at the comics shop.