Popular Comic Artist Seeks ‘POC-Friendly Publisher’ After Long-Time Partner Dumps Latest Project
Renowned Filipino American comic creator Joshua Luna has recently announced that the thought-provoking online comic strips he has been making about Asian American identity and experiences will be published in a book called “AMERICANIZASIAN.”
However, his announcement sparked some controversy after he revealed that Image comics refused to publish it after having it greenlit “reluctantly.”
Thread: For #APAHM I’d hoped to announce the release date of AMERICANIZASIAN, a book collecting my online comic strips about Filipino American & Asian American identity & experiences, but since my publisher @ImageComics doesn’t seem comfortable publishing it, I need your help. 1/ pic.twitter.com/OWh8jyRbY4
The talented writer/artist, who is part of the famed Luna Brothers who published numerous comic titles such as “Ultra,” “Girls,” and “The Sword” with Image over the years, took to Twitter last week to ask help from his fans instead.
“For #APAHM I’d hoped to announce the release date of AMERICANIZASIAN, a book collecting my online comic strips about Filipino American & Asian American identity & experiences.”
He then adds, “but since my publisher @ImageComics doesn’t seem comfortable publishing it, I need your help.”
In the same thread, he narrated how a partner at Image said it was too negative when he initially pitched AMERICANIZASIAN in April, noting that it wouldn’t sell if no one could relate to it.
This partner, who Luna identified only as a white man, asked at least one Asian-American staff member to back up his claims. The book was eventually “begrudgingly” greenlit but when Luna submitted the cover, he was told it couldn’t be used to legal concerns.
He begrudgingly greenlit the book—even though it was clear he didn’t want to—and I submitted my cover a month later. I was immediately told it could not be used due to legal concerns over its parodying of trademarked characters. No suggestions were offered to make it usable. 5/
According to Luna, when he tried to ask for feedback to make the necessary changes, he was rebuffed by the publisher and their legal counsel.
“Two days later, I was informed that my bestselling comic previously published through Image would be removed from Comixology, and any remaining copies burned. Burning books to reduce inventory costs is normal, but I’ve never been told it would put an end to digital sales. Concerned they were going to erase all my books, I tried again to work with them. I gave them a detailed list of all of my strips with potential legal risks and offered to modify them based on their recommendations, but they haven’t been forthcoming with answers or guidance. One cover change the Partner did suggest, though, was to exclude “other characters and focus on you.” As a light-skinned Fil-Am, it’s important to me to uplift dark-skinned Filipinos, yet he was implying I should erase two characters that are my own IP — that’s not a legal issue.”
It’s hard not to believe Image’s behavior is discriminatory, esp. when there’s a double standard. When Howard Chaykin’s comic was criticized for being harmful towards trans women & Pakistani men, Image defended & celebrated him for making people “angry” & “uncomfortable.” 11/ pic.twitter.com/dfLbLvM8Xt
Luna then went on to accuse the publisher of discriminating against him and his work, noting that Image has historically defended offensive material from its creators in the past.
Luna is now seeking a new publisher which is “POC-friendly & supports the book’s message and tone.” He added that it’s “hard not to believe Image’s behavior is discriminatory in light of this “double standard.”
Image initially responded with a statement but has since retracted according to Bleeding Cool.
Meanwhile, former Image publisher Erik Larsen tweeted, “The only partner involved with approving Image central books is Eric Stephenson and crying racism and taking to Twitter is a classless move and absolutely unfounded.”
He further advised against creators airing their grievances on social media “unless you’re totally cool with terminating a relationship forever.”
As a general rule–don’t take to social media and air your grievances unless you’re totally cool with terminating a relationship forever. If you have no hope of repairing things and you want everybody else to know you’re a ticking time bomb ready to go off–go for it.
In an interview with Comics Beat, Luna shared that his main objective was to reach out to his fans as his options were “dwindling.”
“Being labeled as “angry” and “negative” so many times was very isolating, especially when both the cover and the book as a whole have been a source of joy and catharsis for me, and have helped me build an incredible community of supportive fans,” Luna noted. “I waited 30 years to talk about these thoughts and experiences, and it felt like I was being asked to retreat back into silence. The constant pushback over the course of two months made my world feel small.”
“I knew my career was already in jeopardy whether I stayed silent or chose to speak up. My options were dwindling,” he added.
“Ultimately, I knew I couldn’t get help if I didn’t ask for it. I just had to believe that the community of people who’ve enjoyed my strips would be there for me, and they were. The outpouring of support over the past few days has been overwhelming. Image has been my home since 2004, but maybe I’d found a new kind of home without even realizing it.”
Fans of Joshua Luna’s work can pledge to his Patreon account and/or donate via PayPal via links below:
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