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A display case with several comic books and captions.
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month comic book display in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room, May 2024.

Comics to Read This AAPI Heritage Month

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May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in which we honor the important role that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have played in our history. To celebrate we are highlighting some of the many Asian American and Pacific Islander comic book creators, writers, and characters that can be found in the Library of Congress’ vast comic book collections.

Superheroes and Villains

From Super-man to the Spider-verse, modern comics provide readers with some incredible Asian American superheroes and characters.

On the left a comic book cover shows a woman with black hair wearing a face mask and a black and red suit shooting webs from her left hand. On the right a comic cover shows Superboy lifting a car over a silver man with long sharp fingers who is holding a woman down.
Silk, no. 1 (January 2016). Superboy, no. 24 (Feb. 1996). Serial & Government Publications Division.

In Marvel’s “Silk, Korean American journalist Cindy Moon gets bitten by the same radioactive spider as Peter Parker, giving her powers including “silk-sense,” which is similar to “spidey-sense.” In DC’s “New Super-Man”, Kong Kenan of Shanghai, China, gets a chance to become a superhero, but must find a way to adjust to his new powers and responsibilities. “New Super-Man” was written by Award winning author and former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang.

Meanwhile, also in the DC Universe, “Superboy” fights the villain Silversword. Originally known as Dr. Arnold Kaua, Silversword declares himself a defender of Hawaii, but he also attacks the U.S. Navy. Interestingly, Silversword is drawn to resemble King Kamehameha, the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Image Comics brings us brother and sister duo Tony and Saffron Chu in the comic series “Chu.” Tony is a detective with cibopath abilities—he can get psychic impressions from the food he eats. Saffron is a criminal with cibopars abilities—she can learn secrets about who she eats with. The so called “food noir” series is a spin-off of the award-winning series “Chew.”

Myths and Legends

Samoan warrior Toa stands in front of a crowd while a woman holds a spear up to him.
Toa: Warrior of the Sunrise, no. 1 (August 1982).

In addition to telling tales of super-powered men and women, there is a history of comics providing a visual representation of traditional myths and legends. “Toa: Warrior of the Sunrise,” a comic book from Western Samoa, tells the story of Toa, a warrior from the mythical continent of Mu.

A blue skinned man sits holding a bow drawn in front of a woman who is sitting behind him.
Amar Chitra Katha Epics & Mythology, no. 504 (July 2009).

The Library of Congress also holds a number of comics from Indian publisher Amar Chitra Katha. Their “Epics and Mythology“ series includes “Rama,” a retelling of the Ramayana, one of the great epic poems of India that was originally written in Sanskrit. The story follows King Rama who must rescue his wife, Sita, from the demon-king Ravana.

These are just a few of the comic books that you can find in our collections. If you are able to visit us in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room, you can request these and others, and view the display of comic books for AAPI Heritage Month.

Comments

  1. Isn’t Chew about a cannibal / autophage when he’s using his powers? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chew_(comics)

    I note that your catalog record for the series doesn’t include that as a subheading. ;^)

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