Stony Brook University Libraries is pleased to present Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 from March 12 to July 27, 2014. The exhibit will be on view in the Theatre Lobby Gallery at the Charles B. Wang Center. Through a selection of images from comic books representing four turbulent decades, Marvels & Monsters illustrates how evolving racial and cultural archetypes defined America’s perceptions of Asians. This exhibition draws from noted science fiction author and cultural studies scholar William F. Wu’s comic book collection–the largest archive of comic books featuring Asians and Asian Americans–that was donated to the NYU Fales Library & Special Collections through the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU.
Curated by Asian Pop columnist Jeff Yang, this exhibition is a unique and fascinating look at how the images and characters of Asians and Asian Americans featured in comic books during times of war and unrest coalesced into archetypes that still remain today.
The exhibition places a selection of noted archetypes–Guru, Brain, Temptress, Manipulator, Alien, Kamikaze, Brute, and Lotus Blossom–within both a historical context and a comparative discourse with contemporary Asian American writers and creators including Ken Chen, V.V. Ganeshananthan, Larry Hama, David Henry Hwang, Naomi Hirahara, Genny Lim, Greg Pak, Vijay Prashad, and Gene Luen Yang.
The exhibition also contains elements designed to encourage direct engagement with the archetypes, such as life-size cutouts of the eight archetypes that allow visitors to put themselves “inside the image” and an installation called “Shades of Yellow” that matches the shades used for Asian skin tones in the comics with their garish yellow Pantone™.
The exhibit will also frame a one-day symposium on Asian images in comics and graphic narratives on April 23, 2014. Marvels & Monsters: A Symposium on Asian Images in Comics and Graphic Narratives will examine images of Asians in a variety of cultural forms (manga, film, video, social media, graphic novels). The keynote address will be presented by Min Hyoung Song, Associate Professor of English at Boston College, and author of The Children of 1965: On Writing, and Not Writing, as an Asian American (Duke University Press, 2013). Other speakers include exhibit curator and author of books on Asian American comics and graphic narratives, Jeff Yang, and graphic novelist and filmmaker, Derek Kirk Kim.
The opening reception of the exhibit is hosted by Charles B. Wang Center on March 12, 2014, 5:00 to 7:00 PM. It is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required.
The symposium and exhibit are presented by the University Libraries and made possible by a grant from the Presidential Mini-Grant for Diversity Initiatives at Stony Brook University. Generous support is provided by the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Cultural Analysis & Theory, Center for Korean Studies, Asian American Center, Confucius Institute and the Charles B. Wang Center.
The Charles B. Wang Center is located at 100 Nicolls Rd. on the campus of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. For more information, call 631-632-6353 or visit http://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/wang/index.html.
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