We all know the comic book world is run by white males. Since Superman and Captain America debuted back in the ol’ days, most mainstream superhero characters have been male and white. Even superheroes of colour in the past were created by white writers.
But it’s safe to say that it’s changing, both creators and characters are progressing into a more diverse roster. We now have a Black Panther movie, a Wonder Woman lead who’s not white, and American-Pakistani superhero Kamala Khan.
Recently, Marvel’s newest Editor-in-Chief, C.B. Cebulksi, a 47-year old white man admitted that years ago, he pretended to be a Japanese man in order to write–overcoming company policy that forbids any Marvel Comics Editor to partake in writing duties.
Yes, that’s right. Akira Yoshida was his identity and one that everyone thought was real.
Cebulski wrote for a lot of titles under that name, including Thor: Son of Asgard, Elektra: The Hand, Kitty Pryde: Shadow & Flame, Wolverine: Soultaker and more. These aren’t B grade superheroes we’re talking about and although Akira Yoshida is credited as the writer, it all still came from Cebulksi.
You must be wondering why is this an issue? The guy was just trying to write and advance his career. Yeah, we all get that but why use a Japanese name? Why couldn’t Cebulksi pretended to be Todd McClane or another white person?
Akira Yoshida wasn’t just a name, Cebulski made his alter ego seemed like a real person with real backgrounds and history. He had an elaborate identity–a Japanese man who grew up learning English from American comic books and movies. This is what Cebluski had created in order to convinced people within the industry that they were both completely separate people. Cebulski even claimed he “saw” Yoshida back when “he” was working with Marvel.
Cebulski is an avid fan of Japanese culture, and it is said that he speaks the language fluently. That’s all cool, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a white man who pretended to be Japanese in order to advance his career. This could have been credited to an actual person who’s of Japanese descent but no, a white guy had to take credit.
That’s all been said and done, and Cebulski confessed to his executives internally that he was in fact Yoshida and what he did was wrong and even issued an apology for his masquerade back then and that “this is all but old news that has been dealt with.” His actions seems unaccountable, although this is in fact old news, if issues like this arise again should we just look the other way? I hope not.
With its promise to diversify its content, Marvel and every other publishing company shouldn’t take something like this lightly or make the person the new EIC. If you want to tell a story from a different perspective with an authentic voice, get someone from that particular background to give that voice. No one would believe Black Panther’s story as authentic if a white guy from Tennessee wrote it, just use that logic.
We had enough white men telling stories from their perspective. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite superheroes are white af, but authenticity comes from authentic storytelling, not just someone who thinks this culture is cool and thinks he can write about it.
It’s time that diversity actually became progress, not just an empty promise.