Comic Publishers

April 11, 2013

WonderCon Anaheim 2013: Gene Yang Interview

Welcome back! While at WonderCon the nice people at Dark Horse were able to get me an interview with Gene Yang, the writer of the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic series that started with The Promise and continues in The Search. Yang was able to talk with me about the series and comics in general.

ComicAttack: You’re doing the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic series, currently The Search. Are there plans for stories beyond this already in development? I’ve noticed there is no Toph in this, and thought that maybe that would be for the next story to make up for the lack of Toph.

Gene Yang: That was a tough decision to make, not including Toph. I love Toph. We started by writing a family drama about the Fire Nation royal family and then added in the other characters where we could. Sadly, we couldn’t fit Toph in organically. It was hard to do that. I have not heard anything official on what’s next.

CA: How do you think comics have been handling subjects like race and gender?

GY: I think American comics have been diversified in all sense of the word, in genre, in age demographics and gender. It’s a really good thing. I think a part of it is manga’s influence. In Japanese society manga has been read by every segment of society and we’re starting to see that here in America. When I was a kid it was pretty much all superheroes and maybe some talking animals, now you see all kinds. Even conventions, back when I was younger you’d see 80% dudes and now you see it’s totally different.

CA: How much influence do the creators have with you making the Avatar comics, and what do you want to do with it?

GY: Every book starts with a conversation with me and the creators and sometimes editors from Dark Horse and Nickelodeon are there as well. We have certain segments of the story that are set, bones of the structure. Like how we know that Republic City is born from the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom. Around those bones we have a lot of wiggle room. I don’t get to do whatever I want but there is a lot of creativity. It’s very organic. They gave me a bunch of documents for the series. For Korra though, I don’t get much more than the general public. I have a decent amount of creative elbow room.

CA: What else are you working on?

GY: I have a book coming out in September called Boxers and Saints, that’s written and drawn by me and it’s two volumes being put out by First Second Books. It’s about the Boxer Rebellion, which was a war that took place on Chinese soil during the early 1900’s. In the first volume it’s from the Boxers as the protagonists and in the second it’s their enemies as the protagonists.

CA: Alright, last question: You’re going off to save the day, what dinosaur do you ride in on?

GY: Stegosaurus! I’d ride in between the plates to stay safe.

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And that’s all from Gene Yang! I really can’t wait for more of The Search and that Boxers and Saints book sounds amazing. Join me next time for an interview with Bryan Q. Miller!

Alexander Bustos

drbustos@comicattack.net

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