Cartoonist & Graphic Novelist Gene Luen Yang : Bullseye with Jesse Thorn Gene Luen Yang has written a lot of critically acclaimed graphic novels: American Born Chinese, Boxers & Saints, The Shadow Hero, and the graphic novel series Secret Coders. Four years ago, he won a MacArthur "genius" grant. He also works at DC Comics, home to Superman, among others. He's got two new books out now. Superman Smashes the Klan pits America's favorite superhero against the KKK. The other book, Dragon Hoops is a memoir about his time as a high school teacher in Oakland, following his school's basketball team. Jordan Morris, in for Jess, geeks out with Gene about Marvel superheroes, DC Comics, and attending comic conventions. They'll also talk at length about the decision to pit Superman against the KKK and how Superman's story mirrors the experience of immigrants in the US.

Cartoonist & Graphic Novelist Gene Luen Yang

Listen to this Episode

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/883041333/883055577" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Gene Luen Yang, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, his mother's home, Saratoga/California, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation hide caption

toggle caption
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Gene Luen Yang, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, his mother's home, Saratoga/California, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Gene Luen Yang is a cartoonist and graphic novelist. He's written a lot of critically acclaimed graphic novels: American Born Chinese, Boxers & Saints, The Shadow Hero, and graphic novel series Secret Coders.

YouTube

Four years ago, he won a MacArthur "Genius" grant. An honor that isn't given to many comics creators. That same year, the Library of Congress named Gene as its Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

Cover of graphic novel Superman Smashes The Klan. DC Comics hide caption

toggle caption
DC Comics

These days Gene's working at DC Comics as a writer of the New Superman comics. His latest work for DC can be found in the new graphic novel Superman Smashes the Klan.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang. Macmillan Publishers hide caption

toggle caption
Macmillan Publishers

But not too long ago Gene was a teacher. He taught computer science at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, California. The school was known for its basketball program. Gene wasn't exactly a sports guy, but he took an interest in the team.

He wrote a graphic novel about it – Dragon Hoops follows the year he spent observing the high school's basketball team and their road to the state championship. It's also sort of a memoir. That year at Bishop O'Dowd would end up being his last, when Gene took a full time gig at DC Comics.

Both books are great and we're thrilled to have Gene on the show. Jordan Morris fills in for Jesse on the latest episode. They'll geek out about Marvel superheroes, DC Comics, and attending comic conventions. Gene and Jordan also talk at length about the decision to pit Superman against the KKK, and discuss Superman as an allegory for US immigrant experience.

Superman Smashes the Klan and Dragon Hoops are out now.