New Comic Book Centers A Female Asian-American Superhero, Who Defies Stereotypes, For An Inclusive Story

We’ve seen some major strides forward in the world of comic book superheroes both in the written medium and as they make the leap from page to TV and movie screens. In the past few years audiences have seen Black Panther, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel bring some much-needed diversity to the superhero world, but there is still a long way to go.

Intersectionality is key to growing audiences and ensuring that we don’t just continue to see the same archetypes on screen and in comic books. We’ve long been fans of companies that are writing new stories and characters that represent more of the diversity in the world, including Emet Comics and Vortex to name just a couple. Additionally, there are independent writers and creators who are breaking the mold in the hopes of being more inclusive.

You may already be familiar with ‘Raising Dion’, a powerful comic book story centering a single mom without any supernatural powers and her son who discovers he does have some. Created by acclaimed writer/director Dennis Liu, this story is now being turned into a Netflix show starring Michael B. Jordan and Alisha Wainwright, which you can watch starting October 4!

Dennis describes the story as truly empowering for women and single parents, and continuing his theme of empowering those who are largely ignored in mainstream media, he is back with another comic book story that gives visibility to the Asian-American community in a way that deliberately upends stereotypes.

Together with his wife Marie Iida (Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’ interpreter) they created ‘LING’, which is the companion parallel piece to ‘Raising Dion’. This one is about an awkward teen girl, who is getting cyberbullied and deals with issues of race and gender, cyberbullying, model minority, depression, among other relevant and even nuanced stereotypes.

She’s not sexy, she’s not good at math, she’s not submissive, and she skateboards. LING, a Chinese American teen with a birthmark on her face, struggles with cyberbullying and self-image in high school. One day, Kitsy, a magical three legged fox, teleports into her washing machine to tell her that she’s a “which”: she has the ability to transform to be, whichever girl she wants to be,” says the description of this nuanced Asian-American female superhero.

Featuring the voice of comedic actor Randall Park for the character of Kitsy, Dennis says he created ‘LING’ due to the lack of diversity in film/television for Asians-Americans, and he wanted to be part of the solution, drawing inspiration from real life Asian-American women who have been successful at breaking down stereotypes.

“She’s not over-sexualized like Asian women have historically been in cinema, and she’s an awkward nerdy teen. We love that we can celebrate a dorky teen who’s into anime in this short film. The shots in the film are fast but reveal a ton: Ling is not great at make-up, and she doesn’t have to be. She has to deal with cyberbullying. Ling’s comic book design was inspired from the kick ass snowboarding Chloe Kim (Ling skateboards on her KABOOMSTICK at the end- a predominately male sport), has birthmarks which was inspired by spots of Yayoi Kusama, and overall is just a badass “witch” like Yoko Ono,” he said.

The creative team looked to iconic films such as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Space Jam’ when it came to combining live action and animation, and worked with Japanese animators as well as Asian-American artists who were versed in manga and anime, since we haven’t seen many instances where anime becomes combined with live action film.

Deciding to deal with topics such as self-identity and depression was an important part of the Ling’s character development, as Dennis and Marie’s research found that it is an issue that minority women face, particularly Asian Americans.

Combining female empowerment, realistic issues, and the nuance that comes with being a teen girl in today’s society make for a winning combo that is sure to win over comic book audiences who are looking for a new kind of superhero they can relate to. Superheroes shouldn’t have to be so far-fetched or completely alien in order to feel legitimate. Heck, even Tony Stark (‘Avengers: Engame’ SPOILER ALERT!) wasn’t completely invincible!

You can purchase a copy of ‘LING’ today via the website, and get to know your new fave badass superhero babe in the short film below. Be sure to give the film and comic book plenty of shares among your social network, because we as consumers have the power to change the status quo by supporting independent creators who seek to dismantle stereotypes and inspire us at the same time.


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