Apparently, there's some minor hubbub this week about new Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski admitting he wrote Marvel Comics under a Japanese pseudonym, Akira Yoshida, thirteen years ago. The story is all over social media and entertainment news sites.
First, let me be clear: I have no plans or interest in writing or working for Marvel. I have no interest in kissing up to Marvel or currying favour with them, so my opinions here are entirely my own.
My opinion is, I don't care.
Yes, it may have been a breach of ethics for Cebulski to write Marvel comics under a Japanese pseudonym to contravene a rule that editors were not allowed to write comics at the company, but as far as I'm concerned, it was a victimless crime. He did not take the job away from an Asian writer. The editor who hired "Yoshida" did so on good faith, unaware it was really a white bloke and fellow Marvel editor he was hiring. Marvel did not deliberately set out to deceive the public or commit cultural appropriation there. Marvel has since hired Asian writers like Marjorie Liu and editors like Sana Amanat.
There has been far worse stereotyping in stories and worse crimes committed against Asian cultures in comics than "Akira Yoshida" and whatever might have been in his stories. The Hand, for example, has been some dreadful stereotypical mystical Asian ninja bullshit that keeps getting perpetuated, all the way up to the current Marvel Netflix shows. The TV portrayal of the Hand couldn't even figure out the difference between Chinese and Japanese culture and became an awful generic mish-mash of pseudo-Asian rubbish. It also perpetuated the idiotic stereotype of mystical Asian Others who know martial arts. At least "Yoshida's" stories were written by a guy who lived in Japan and knew Japanese culture, which is more than can be said for nearly every other white DC or Marvel comics writer who suddenly decided to do Asian stories. Should C.B. Cebulski be let off the hook? Maybe, maybe not, but I don't care either way. Asians have put up with far worse than Yoshida's stories. I don't feel Yoshida's stories have done any great harm to Asian culture, but that's just my opinion.
I'm not telling anyone not to be offended. People who are offended by this story have every right to be offended. Any Asians or Asian-Americans who feel offended by this story have perfectly valid reasons to be offended. And what they choose to do about it is entirely up to them.
Should C.B. Cebulski be dismissed from Marvel? It's up to Marvel. I've been given the impression that Marvel has penalised C.B. Cebulski for this ethical breach, and the punishment is substantial. That has been dealt with. He has been held to account by his bosses. Lessons learned. I don't work for Marvel, so it doesn't impact my life. It doesn't impact the world in the long run. I think all the white people who are worked up about this should save their liberal guilt and angst for topics that really matter, such as racial discrimination and sexual harassment where people actually get hurt.
But this? I don't care.
I understand the urges of tribalism, the need to be part of a team, to follow and support it, and the urge to go after those deemed an enemy or traitor of the tribe. But in the end, the only thing that matters for the tribe of Marvel readers and fans is, are the comics any good? If so, great. If not, vote with your wallets and don't buy them to send the message that they need to be good to earn your support and goodwill, and your lovely money.
For us punters, the only thing that matters is whether the comics being published are any good and worth reading.
As for the rest, why should we care?
Adi Tantimedh has written radio plays for the BBC, and various scripts for both Britain and Hollywood, including ZINKY BOYS GO UNDERGROUND, which won the British Academy Award for Best Short Film in 1995. He has also directed short films that premiered at international film festivals. He has written the graphic novels JLA: AGE OF WONDER for DC Comics, BLACKSHIRT for Moonstone Books and most recently, LA MUSE for Big Head Press. He also works as a story editor and consultant for animation, video games and feature films. He writes Look! It Moves! for Bleeding Cool. He is currently writing the RAVI P.I. Trilogy for Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.