5 Questions with Gene Luen Yang

GeneYang(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Gene Luen Yang, writer and artist of several graphic novels, including American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints.

Boxers and Saints, his most recent book, is an ambitious work of historical fiction set in late 19th century China and told in a graphic novel format. It tackles one of the most complicated periods of recent Chinese history with grace and elegance.

It was published by First Second Books in two companion volumes, and it has basically won (or been nominated for) every literary award. Likewise for American Born Chinese, which was the first graphic novel to be nominated for the National Book Award in 2006 (Boxers and Saints was shortlisted for the same award in 2013).

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5 Questions with Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Jeffrey Brown, writer and artist on the adorable Darth Vader and Son, Vader’s Little Princess, Goodnight Darth Vader, and the Jedi Academy books.

We first became aware of Jeffrey Brown in 2012 when Darth Vader and Son was released by Chronicle Books. I got a copy for Father’s Day and instantly fell in love. Zoey instantly fell in love, too, though she loved the art and the fact that Luke and Leia were tiny and cute. She hadn’t seen the movies at that point, so some of the jokes went right over her head. But, she still laughed.

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Star Wars #9 (Marvel)

Issue #9 (March 1978): Showdown on a Wasteland World

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrators: Howard Chaykin & Tom Palmer

Previously in this series.

This issue begins with three solid pages of Han’s narration, bringing the reader up to speed on what happened in the previous two issues! I guess the creators weren’t confident enough that their readers either read or understood the nonsense that happened in those pages. Can’t say I blame them.

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Star Wars #8 (Marvel)

Issue #8 (February 1978): Eight for Aduba-3

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artist/Co-Plotter: Howard Chaykin

Previously in this series.

Our story, as it were, continues. The promise of Jaxxon is finally fulfilled. I mean, look! There he is, right on the cover!

We pick up right where the last issue leaves off, with Han and Chewie doin’ a little harmless womanizing in the cantina. Well, not quite harmless. Remember the blue woman who wanted to “take a walk and swap life stories” with Han? Turns out she has a boyfriend.

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Star Wars #7 (Marvel)

Issue #7 (January 1978): New Planets, New Perils!

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artist/Co-plotter: Howard Chaykin

Well, here we are. Finally beyond the movie. We finally get new stories! And….what a mixed bag we get.

The issue picks up where the movie left off. Han and Chewie say goodbye to Luke and Leia and blast off with their reward to pay off Jabba. Kudos to the writers for following up on this plot point. Beginning in this issue, we follow the exploits of Han and Chewie for a while. Why? They actually address this on the letters page:

For the present, in order to gain a breathing space while director/creator George Lucas himself is deciding where the movie sequel (and novelizations thereof) will head, the lads are concentrating a bit more on the adventures of Han and Chewbacca.

Apparently, at the time, no one thought Han and Chewie would play much of an important role in subsequent movies. Anyway, back to this issue…

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Star Wars #6 (Marvel)

Issue #6 (December 1977): Is This The Final Chapter?

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artist/Storyteller: Howard Chaykin

In what’s starting to feel like a theme, we need to first address this cover. Last week, we were given a cover that was all about misdirection, and it must’ve worked (from a marketing perspective). I mean, of course it worked. Just look at the entire Silver Age. Anyway, take a look at this one. “See Luke Skywalker Battle Darth Vader!”

Well, I guess so, in a manner of speaking. I mean, Vader did chase down Luke’s X-Wing during the trench run, but they never actually “do battle.” I don’t think Luke even fires on Vader. And they certainly don’t have a lightsaber duel with a helpless Princess Leia cowering on the ground next to them. What a disservice to her character, especially since her tough, independent demeanor is actually represented in these comics.

Are you prepared for the “soul-shattering climax”? I know I am…

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Star Wars #5 (Marvel)

Issue #5 (November 1977): Lo, The Moons of Yavin!

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrators: Howard Chaykin & Steve Leialoha

Moving toward the conclusion of the movie. Before diving in, we’ve got another doozy of a cover. Talk about your misdirection! This is what I love about old comics like these. What you see on the cover was almost never what you found inside. I mean, c’mon, the Death Star is right there! It’s not in orbit; by all rights, it should be crashing into the planet at this point. But, oh no! Look out! It knocked over a wall with that laser beam!

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Ms. Marvel

Why I read Ms. Marvel to my 5-year-old daughter

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be. . . . I want to be beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated.” —Kamala Khan

When I picked up the first two issues of the new run of Ms. Marvel, they were in a stack of “kid stuff” for my daughter. I think we also had a Super-Pets book and a Scooby-Doo comic in there. The cashier made a point to ask if these two were for me (and not, presumably, for my daughter who was beside me). After a hesitant “yes?” on my part, he simply said, “good.”

I took another look at the covers. Rated T+. I hadn’t noticed anything really offensive during my initial flip through either. Maybe I missed something? After we got home, I read both and instantly fell in love. And, nope, I hadn’t missed anything offensive. I’m assuming they’re rated T+ for some drug and alcohol references. I don’t think ratings are given based on cultural references.

At this point, there’s really nothing I can say about the new Ms. Marvel or Kamala Khan that hasn’t been said (better) elsewhere. This is not meant to be a synopsis or review of the books. This is an explanation for why I think this might be the perfect character for my 5-year-old daughter.

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  • Lumberjanes #1 (April 2014)
  • written by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
  • illustrated by Brooke Allen
  • colors by Maarta Laiho
  • letters by Aubrey Aiese
  • published by Boom! Studios (Boom! Box)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

What the junk? This one came out of nowhere for me. I hadn’t heard much about it, and then Twitter sort of erupted into a bunch of people talking about plaid shirts and shouting “Lumberjanes!” So of course I had to go check it out.

So what do we have? An all-ages comics about five female friends at camp fighting three-eyed foxes and dealing with a bearwoman? Yes, please. The issue doesn’t waste any time with unnecessary exposition. It jumps right into the middle of the story. At first, I felt like maybe we had missed an issue #0 or something, but within a few pages, all becomes clear. What’s left unclear is supposed to be unclear.

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Star Wars #4 (Marvel)

Issue #4 (October 1977): In Battle with Darth Vader

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrators in Tandem: Howard Chaykin & Steve Leialoha

This issue has a lot of exposition and covers a lot of ground. It’s also got some downright disturbing images. You’ve been warned.

Zoey was quiet for much of it, but she seemed to be involved with the story. As usual, much of the narration and dialogue is excessively pedantic. This is Star Wars Revised with a Thesaurus.

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Star Wars #3 (Marvel)

Issue #3 (September 1977): Death Star!

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artists/Illustrators: Howard Chaykin & Steve Leialoha

Issue 3 brings us halfway through the treatment of the first movie. First of all, take a look at that cover. Just soak it in. Look at the determination on their faces, especially Leia. I think we’re seeing more emotion in Luke’s face here than we actually see on screen in the entire movie! I kid.

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Star Wars #2 (Marvel)

Issue #2 (August 1977): Six Against the Galaxy

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrator: Howard Chaykin

Issue 2 picks up right where Issue 1 left off. In other news, the sky is blue and the sun will rise tomorrow.

Alert Star Wars fans–or really, anyone with a pulse–will immediately realize that the cover of this issue is a total bait and switch. “Luke Skywalker Strikes Back!” #1: Nice completely accidental foreshadowing there. #2: Really? Luke strikes back?

Why is Luke leading the charge in a cantina brawl? Why is Ben pulling up the rear? Why is Luke firing a blaster in the cantina? Wait…a cantina brawl? Did I miss something?

Also, they spelled it lightsabre. Huh, maybe Luke is British.

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Star Wars #1 (Marvel)

Issue #1 (July 1977): Star Wars

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrator: Howard Chaykin
  • Letterer: Jim Novak

My daughter has been a Star Wars fan since before she could talk. She knows all of the characters (we’re talking original trilogy, non-EU here) and can quote entire scenes. But she’s never seen the movies. She’s 5. I’m holding out. I’m actually a little worried she won’t like it anymore once concrete images consume what her imagination has built up. We’ve read countless Star Wars books and listened to the old story records more times than I can count, but I like that the movies are still there….waiting. To be seen for the first time.

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