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Comic Exhibit Looks At Asian-American Influence, Perception

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The Museum of Chinese in America on Friday unveiled its newest exhibits which are sure to attract comic enthusiasts of all backgrounds.

The first, "Marvels and Monsters," traces the portrayal of Asian Americans in comics between between the 1940's and the 80's, and how it affected stereotypes.

The second exhibit, "Asian American Artists Reinvent the Comic Book," examines more recent work by top Asian American graphic novelists.

It is considered in some ways a response to old work, and in some ways as a continuation of it.

"What we've done is we've actually looked back at almost 50 years of comic book history to see the story lines of the comic book characters that kind of keep on coming back again and again-the dragon lady, the lotus blossom, the alien, the manipulator. And what you'll see here is basically a sort of fun-house mirror of American history," said MoCA Co-Curator Jeff Yang.

"A lot of the stories that took place in the comic books during this time came out of a certain fear of the unknown that Asians represented," said MoCA Curator and Director of Exhibitions Herb Tam.

The museum, located at 215 Centre Street, is on the border of Chinatown. Tam says, interestingly, the neighborhood itself is often shown as a mysterious and sinister place

"It’s always been cast like that from the outside as this place of, you know, shadowy underworlds, the crime and so forth," Tam noted.

The museum also offers group discussion on how these images have shaped public perception of heroes, sidekicks and villains along with family workshops.

For more information visit the museum's website mocanyc.org.

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