Unlike most comic cons, AACC is designed as a full-day experience, giving you the chance to listen to, learn from and engage with top creators in both casual and structured settings. In fact, you might want to think of the "Con" in Asian American ComiCon as representing not "convention," but "conference"--or even "conversation."

The day's program includes both free-form opportunities to interact with artists, writers and fans (the Artists Alley, signing sessions and "meet & greets", dynamic panels, workshops and one-on-one interviews, and a special keynote and award presentation honoring comics superstar and G.I. Joe mythology creator Larry Hama.

The AACC will feature three separate workshop tracks. All tracks are open to all AACC registrants; however, to manage traffic flow and seating, we will ask registrants to tentatively identify which sessions they intend to join upon receiving confirmation of their attendance. Space for some sessions is limited, and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, with VIP Pass holders receiving priority.

Track One: Reading Comics

How do we read comic books today? This track answers this question by putting comic book artists at the same table with novelists, professors and industry professionals. A mash-up of fan convention, Asian American studies conference and literary festival, this one-of-a-kind series of panels and readings confronts pressing issues, such as the globalization of pop culture, the representation of Asian Americans in comics, and, of course, the nature of nerdiness.

Sessions Include:

  • The New Villains (10:00-11:00 am, Exhibit Hall): Muslim insurgents. Chinese spies. North Korean dictators. Is it just us, or are Asians increasingly being cast in the role of the global evildoer? What's the history of the portrayal of villainous Asians in comics and cartoon art, how does that history shape what we're seeing in those fields today, and what does this mean for Asians and Asian Americans in the real world?

  • Moderator: Jeff Yang, editor-in-chief, Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology
    Panelists: Larry Hama, creator, G.I. Joe mythology; William F. Wu, author, Hong on the Range; The Yellow Peril; Tyler Chin-Tanner, artist/writer, American Terrorist; Sharad Devarajan, CEO, Liquid Comics
  • Every Comic Is Asian American (11 am-12:30 pm, Classroom): The most prominent Asian American comic characters have typically been slanty-eyed sidekicks and supervillains, speaking in broken English and colored the shade of school buses. This panel starts with an all-star line-up of novelists and poets re-imagining their favorite comic book characters as Asian American and continues with a panel of professors, artists, and journalists discussing how Asian Americans have been represented in graphic novels.

    Moderator: Ken Chen, executive director, Asian American Writers Workshop
    Panelists: Ed Lin, author of Waylaid and This Is a Bust; Monica Ferrell, author, The Answer Is Always Yes; Monica Youn, author, Ignatz (forthcoming); Vyshali Manivannan, author, Invictus; Paolo Javier, author, 60 lv Bo(e)mbs; Karl Taro Greenfeld, author, Speed Tribes
  • The Asianization of Pop Culture (2:00-3:00 pm, Classroom): The rise of the graphic novel could really be described as the Asianization of American pop culture. In fact, the graphic novel renaissance has in many ways been powered by the popularity of manga, Japanese comics that still account for half of the new comics released in the America today. Panelists discuss the influence of manga, manhua, and anime on American comics and American pop culture more generally.

    Moderator: Kai-Ming Cha, comics and manga reporter, Publishers Weekly
    Panelists: Aimee Bahng, assistant professor, English, Dartmouth College; Kuo-Yu Liang, VP, Sales & Marketing, Diamond Comic Distributors; Ken Okabayashi, founder of Piggy Back Studios; Misako Rocks!, artist/writer, Biker Girl
  • Nerdpop--The Rise of the Nerd! (3:00-4:00 pm, Classroom): Asian Americans have long been stereotyped as “nerds,” but nerdiness has become something to celebrate. With the rise of digital culture and the mainstreaming of comic books and other once nerdy genres, nerds have gone from persecuted minority to masters of the universe. This panel examines the historical development of nerd identity, particularly among Asian Americans, and the aesthetics of nerd pride.

    Moderator: Hua Hsu, professor, English, Vassar College
    Panelists: Ben Nugent, author, American Nerd; Derek Kirk Kim, artist/writer, Same Difference; Keith Chow, senior editor, Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology

Track Two: Making Comics

This track focuses on the art and business of making comics--from alt-comics and literary graphic fiction to mainstream superhero books and syndicated strips. Featured workshops will include a hands-on demonstration by leading creators; explorations of the business side of comics; and other sessions highlighting comics as a profession, a discipline, an art form and a commercial landscape.

Sessions Include:

  • Visual Storytelling--Hands-On! (10:00-11:00 am, Classroom): A diverse group of acclaimed artists sketch in real time as they discuss their different approaches in making creative choices.

    Moderator: Greg Pak, writer, The Incredible Hulk and War Machine Panelists: Bernard Chang, artist, Wonder Woman; Fred Chao, artist/writer, Johnny Hiro; Cliff Chiang, artist, Green Arrow/Black Canary; Misako Rocks!, artist/writer, Biker Girl
  • Visual Storytelling--The Art of Collaboration (11:00 am-12:00 pm, Exhibit Hall): Top graphical storytellers share their experiences and tips for making the most of the challenges and opportunities of collaboration between pencillers, inkers, colorists, and writers.

    Moderator: Greg Pak, writer, The Incredible Hulk and War Machine Panelists: Derek Kirk Kim, artist/writer, Same Difference; Daniel Ketchum, editor, Marvel Comics; Sean Chen, artist, Iron Man; Khoi Pham, artist, Mighty Avengers; Christine Strain, colorist, Runaways
  • The Business of Comics (12:00-1:00 pm, Exhibit Hall): For anyone who's ever dreamed of joining the comics world, here's your chance to get an insider's look at the commercial side of graphical storytelling. Comic book pros from every corner of the biz introduce their fields and discuss breaking in, maintaining a career, and keeping up with what the future has in store.
  • Moderator: Jennifer Lee, former editor, Marvel Comics and DC Comics Panelists: Bernard Chang, artist, Wonder Woman; Fletcher Chu-Fong, manager, Events & Retail, DC Comics; Sharad Devarajan, CEO, Liquid Comics; Kuo-Yu Liang, VP, Sales & Marketing, Diamond Comic Distributors; Christine Norrie, artist/writer, Cheat; Arune Singh, sales coordinator, Marvel Comics; Tak Toyoshima, artist/writer, Secret Asian Man
  • Writers' Bloc (1:00-2:00 pm, Exhibit Hall): Writers of indie and superhero comics and a syndicated comic strip discuss the craft of scripting sequential art and their strategies for tackling everyday creative challenges.

    Moderator: Greg Pak, writer, The Incredible Hulk and War Machine Panelists: Fred Chao, artist/writer, Johnny Hiro; Larry Hama, creator, G.I. Joe mythology; Christine Norrie, artist/writer, Cheat; Tak Toyoshima, artist/writer, Secret Asian Man

Track Three: Spotlight Sessions

In this track top comics creators paired with interesting counterparts (outside of comics) for one-on-one discussions covering craft, inspirations and influences, shared themes and future collaborations.

Sessions Include:

    A candid discussion with the brilliant author and artist of SAME DIFFERENCE AND OTHER STORIES and co-creator, with Gene Yang, of the new graphic novel THE ETERNAL SMILE

  • Interviewer: Jeff Yang, editor-in-chief, Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology
  • HAMA TIME!--SPOTLIGHT ON: LARRY HAMA (2:30-3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall)
    Catching up with the Godfather of G.I. JOE, veteran comics writer (and artist!) Larry Hama

  • Interviewer: Keith Chow, senior editor, Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology
    Science fiction legend William Wu talks comics, and shares amples of his vast collection of comic books depicting the history of the Asian image in cartoons--from the good, to the bad, to the very, very ugly

  • Interviewer: Jeff Yang, editor-in-chief, Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology

(4:30-5:00 pm, Exhibit Hall)
Award named for Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama (1885-1951), Japanese American creator of The Four Immigrants--the first original graphic novel published in America

The organizers of AACC want this annual award to recognize the contribution of Asian and Asian Americans to U.S. comic book culture. No one better exemplifies that contribution than Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama, whose career represented the convergence of two worlds and industries, and whose work pointed the way to the future of graphic storytelling.

Kiyama published his breakthrough book The Four Immigrants in 1931. A poignant collection of cartoon stories about life as a Japanese student expatriate in the U.S. in San Francisco during the early part of the 20th century, it explores the issues these early immigrants faced in a world whose language, culture and traditions are new, strange and confusing.

Though the stories were originally intended for newspaper serialization, Kiyama never published them in that form, ultimately releasing them as a single book-length collection. This publication format, along with the fact that the stories in Four Immigrants featured a group of semiautobiographical characters (based on Kiyama and his friends) who grew, evolved and contended with real historical issues and events, has led some to advocate that it be recognized as the first original graphic novel published in America (arriving a decade before Virginia Lee Burton's 1941 Calico the Wonder Horse and nearly two decades before Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller's 1950 It Rhymes with Lust).