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Author and Illustrator Gene Luen Yang on the Link Between Superheroes and the American Experience

“Superheroes at their best express America,” says Author and Illustrator Gene Luen Yang. The first superhero comic books were published in the 1930s at the same time when America was coming into its own as a global superpower. In fact, Superman, the first superhero, reflects the ultimate American immigrant story of a character balancing two cultures, juggling when to hide and when to reveal his true self. Superheroes started an an American idea but can move into other cultures like in Mr. Yang’s New Superman Series .

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Gene Luen Yang

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Nonfiction, Graphic Novels

Gene Luen Yang

Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. American Born Chinese  — a memoir about growing up as an Asian American — became the first graphic novel to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award and a National Book Award finalist. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints  won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award finalist. His other works include Dragon Hoops , the Secret Coders series  (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero  (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man from DC Comics (with various artists), and the Avatar: The Last Airbender  series from Dark Horse Comics (with Gurihiru) and Superman Smashes the Klan (with Gurihiru).

In 2016, Yang was named the 5th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and selected as a MacArthur Fellow.