Author Gene Luen Yang will visit PCC Thursday as part of the Asian Pacific Islander Visiting Scholar (APIVS) program to discuss his new graphic novel, “Boxers and Saints,” and the graphic novel writing process.

Daniel Valencia/Courier
Avatar The Last Airbender sits in Comics Factory down Colorado Blvd. Gene Luen Yang worked on the graphic novel of Avatar The Last Airbender is coming to PCC Thursday 27 as a guest speaker at the Harbeson Hall from 11:30am-1:00 pm.

Yang is the author of the award-winning graphic novel “American Born Chinese,” National Book award finalist “Boxers and Saints,” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series.

Dootsdeemalachanok Thongthiraj, an APIVS committee member, said Yang was invited because he is an author who deals with issues the Asian American community faces.

“I hope that students across campus…will learn something about the Asian American experience,” Thongthiraj said. “I (also) hope that students who want to pursue the arts will be inspired to do so.”

“I hope to inspire students interested in storytelling to give comics a try,” Yang added.

Thongthiraj said Yang’s presentation will appeal to students who are interested in graphic novels, comic books, Asian American Studies, art, English and history.

“Boxers and Saints” is a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and deals with the Boxer Rebellion in China between 1898 and 1900.

“I’m going to talk about how I got interested in the historical incident,” Yang said, “and why I think the Boxer Rebellion is still relevant, and how I went about making the books.”

“American Born Chinese” has been translated into 10 languages and won a Printz and Eisner Award and was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award. Professor Elsie Rivas Gomez, English, and Thongthiraj both teach “American Born Chinese” in their classrooms.

“Students have been able to identify really well with his characters,” Gomez said. “The challenges faced by the characters in the book relate to people of all cultures who are trying to balance their connections to multiple communities in the U.S. and elsewhere. Especially for students of color, the characters struggle to belong while creating an authentic identity is resonant and powerful.”

“I think it is popular because it has so many different levels,” Thongthiraj added. “It’s dark because of the stereotypes, but then it shows the power of friendship which is very uplifting.”

Thongthiraj’s students were very enthusiastic when asked about “American Born Chinese.”

“It is very relatable and very intuitive,” said David Jaruthiwongsakul, economics. “It models an Asian overcoming the challenges in the American experience. Personally, it is a reflection of my life and other people’s lives as well.”

The students also found the novel to be very entertaining.

“It is very fun and really smart,” said Elizabeth Solichin, business.

Thongthiraj said she hopes that those students who are interested in doing something like this see him as a role model.

“He was an engineer then taught computer science at a high school and in his spare time he would write these graphic novels,” Thongthiraj said. “He is a good example of someone who followed his dream and is successful.”

The event begins on March 27 at 11:30 a.m. at Harbeson Hall with free Asian finger foods, desserts, and beverages being served until 11:55 a.m. outside. At noon, attendees will be allowed inside. Food and drinks are not allowed inside the hall.

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