Last month I mentioned that Keiko Agena (Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls) wrote a comic for an upcoming graphic novel anthology, Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology. I have had a chance to interview Keiko about her story, Learn to Share, as well as interview the graphic artist, Ming Doyle, who helped bring her story to life.
Learn to Share is just one of the comic book stories in the Secret Identities anthology, each story telling the tale of Asian American superheroes. Check out the SI site for more about the editors, artists and writers behind these great stories.
Keiko Agena was paired up with Ming Doyle for their story, ‘Learn to Share’. This was their first time working together, which Ming calls an “honor” and Keiko saying Ming was “amazing throughout this experience.”
crushable.com – How did you get involved with the ‘Secret Identities’ anthology?
Keiko Agena: I’m good friends with Parry Shen who is one of the editors of the book. He approached me a few months ago and asked me if I was interested in submitting anything.
crushable.com – What was your inspiration behind writing Learn to Share?
Keiko Agena: When I first heard about the project this image of a young girl isolated from the rest of the world came to mind. I was attracted to this sense of her lonliness and separation.
crushable.com – What is your story about?
Keiko Agena: Sera is a young Thai girl who, due to her traumatic childhood, loses her sight. She discovers she can momentarily regain her sense of sight by “stealing” someone else’s. In those moments she can see both from her point of view and theirs. She becomes aware of a young girl who has gone missing and uses this “power” to see through the eyes of everyone in the city to find the girl. By the end, she’s happy and can see, but only by permanently borrowing it from someone else…
crushable.com – Who is the superhero in your story?
Keiko Agena: Sera. If she were to come back in another story, I’m not sure how she would be dealing with the guilt of keeping someone else’s sight.
crushable.com – What kind of feel were you going for with the artwork for Learn to Share?
Ming Doyle: For all the fantastical elements involved, Keiko story is really fairly gritty. “Grittiness” is probably one of the main characteristics of my art style, so I just went with my natural inclination to ink aggressively in an attempt to mirror the intensity of the script in my art, with the occasional restrained line during the more quiet interludes.
crushable.com – Do you try to be involved in projects that focus on Asian Americans? Why?
Keiko Agena: Not necessarily. Good projects are good projects. If I’m in it there’s at least one Asian American in it, right? Of course a lot of my close friends are talented Asian American artists so I do get to work on a lot of great AA projects.
Ming Doyle: Absolutely yes, whenever I can manage it, but the opportunity is so rare. There are so few Asian comic book characters for Asian comic book fans to relate to, especially in headlining roles. An entire anthology featuring Asian faces is a welcome and much needed change of scene.
crushable.com – What do you hope to achieve by participating in this anthology?
Keiko Agena: Mostly I wanted to fulfil a curiosity about this process. I’ve never participated in something like this before. I hope a lot of people get to read the book and enjoy it.
crushable.com – Did you have previous experience in writing, for comics or otherwise?
Keiko Agena: This is my first comic experience. I’ve written sketches and I’m in the process of developing a webseries with a sketch group.
crushable.com – What drew you to the world of comics?
Ming Doyle: I’d like to say that I was mainly drawn in by the refined and dignified world of indie comics and arty graphic novels, but really I’ve just always loved Batman. “The Animated Series” debuted when I was in middle school and looking for any way to distract myself from art class, and the dark deco look of that beautiful cartoon was draw enough to get lost in all the backstories and lore. As I grew older I definitely came to appreciate indie comics and graphic novels, but Saturday mornings in front of the TV were my gateway into the world of sequential art.
Thanks so much to both Keiko & Ming for taking the time for this interview. Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology will hit stores on April 15, 2009. You can pre-order it on Amazon here.
Images used with permission