For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Gene Luen Yang.

Gene Luen Yang

Gene Luen Yang
Yang at 2023 WonderCon
Yang at 2023 WonderCon
Born (1973-08-09) August 9, 1973 (age 50)
California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
GenreGraphic novels
Notable awardsMacArthur Fellow
SpouseTheresa Kim
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese楊謹倫
Simplified Chinese杨谨伦
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Gene Luen Yang (Chinese: 楊謹倫[1]; born August 9, 1973)[2] is an American cartoonist. He is a frequent lecturer on the subjects of graphic novels and comics, at comic book conventions and universities, schools, and libraries.[3] In addition, he was the Director of Information Services and taught computer science at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, California.[4] In 2012, Yang joined the faculty at Hamline University as a part of the Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) program.[3] In 2016, the U.S. Library of Congress named him Ambassador for Young People's Literature.[5] That year he became the third graphic novelist, alongside Lauren Redniss, to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.[6]

Early life

Yang believes he was born in either Alameda or Fremont, California.[4] He is the child of an electrical engineer from Taiwan and a programmer who grew up in Hong Kong and Taiwan, both of whom emigrated to the United States.[2] They met at the San Jose State University Library during graduate school.[4] He has a younger brother. He grew up in a Catholic family, and his parents instilled in him a strong work ethic and reinforced their Asian culture.[7] In a speech at Penn State, where he spoke as a part of a Graphic Novel Speaker Series, Yang recalled that both of his parents always told him stories during his childhood.[8]

Yang was a part of a small Asian-American minority in his elementary school. He grew up wanting to be an animator for Disney. In third grade, he did a biographical report on Walt Disney, which is where he says his obsession started.[8] This changed in fifth grade when his mother took him to their local bookstore where she bought him his first comic book, issue 57 of the Superman series DC Comics Presents, a book she agreed to buy because Yang's first choice, Marvel Two-in-One issue 99, featured the characters The Thing and Rom on the cover, which she thought looked too frightening.[8]

Yang attended the University of California, Berkeley for his undergraduate degree. He wanted to major in art but his father encouraged him to pursue a more "practical" field so Yang majored in computer science with a minor in creative writing.[9]


After graduating in 1995, Yang worked as a computer engineer for two years. However, after a five-day silent retreat, he felt he was meant to teach, and left his job as a computer engineer to teach computer science at a high school.[9] As a teacher, he drew comics afterschool and during weekends. In 1996, Yang began self-publishing his own comics under the imprint Humble Comics. Yang went on to be published with First Second Books (an imprint of Macmillan Publishers),[4] Marvel Comics, DC Comics, SLG Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, HarperTeen, The New Press, and Pauline Books & Media.[10]

In 1997, Yang first published comic Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks under his Humble Comics imprint, and it won him the Xeric Grant, a self-publishing grant for comic book creators.[9] Yang later published two more installments in the Gordon Yamamoto mini-series and a sequel, Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order. In 2010, both Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks series and Loyola Chin and the San Pelgrino Order were published together as Animal Crackers by Slave Labor Graphics.[11]

In 2006, Yang published American Born Chinese with First Second Publishing.[12] Drawing upon the Chinese folk character of the trickster Monkey King, the book tells the story of a school-age second-generation immigrant who struggles with his Chinese-American identity. Although Yang drew from his own experiences, the book is not autobiographical.[13] In 2021 Disney+ ordered production of a television adaptation of the book.[14]

Yang's other works have been recognized as well. In 2009, Yang was awarded another Eisner Award for Best Short Story for his collaborative work The Eternal Smile which he wrote and Derek Kirk Kim illustrated.[3] Yang was nominated for Eisner Awards for both Prime Baby and his collaborative work Level Up.[15]

Yang wrote the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics series for Dark Horse Comics, the first volume of which was released in January 2012.[10] Yang's graphic novel, Boxers & Saints, which was published by First Second Books in September 2013. In July 2016, DC Comics released the first issue of New Super-Man, featuring a separate Chinese character in the Superman mold, written by Yang and drawn by Viktor Bogdanovic.[16] In October 2019, Yang created a limited series, Superman Smashes the Klan, a loose adaptation of a famous 1946 story-arc from The Adventures of Superman radio series, "Clan of the Fiery Cross", in which an Asian-American family is threatened by the Ku Klux Klan and a young and unsure Superman is determined to protect the children from the terrorists.[17] Making his Marvel Comics debut in 2020, Yang wrote a miniseries starring the martial arts superhero Shang-Chi. According to Yang, the series explores the relationship between Shang-Chi and his archenemy father Zheng Zu, who was originally the infamous villain Fu Manchu.[18] In May 2021, in celebration of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, DC Comics launched the hero Monkey Prince, created by Yang and Bernard Chang.[19]

Yang advocates the use of comics and graphic novels as educational tools in the classroom. In his final project for his master's degree at California State University, East Bay, he emphasized the educational strength of comics, claiming they are motivating, visual, permanent, intermediary, and popular.[20] As a part of his Master's project, Yang created an online comic called Factoring with Mr. Yang & Mosley the Alien as a method of teaching math. This idea came from a time where Yang was substitute teaching a math class at Bishop O'Dowd. Due to the position of Director of Information Services[21] he held at the school, he was forced to miss classes and used the comics to help the students learn the concepts in his absence. Positive student feedback inspired him to use the idea for his Master's project.[9]

In 2018, Yang joined the board of directors of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization founded in 1986 chartered to protect the First Amendment rights of the comics community.[22]

Awards and recognition

American Born Chinese won the annual Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, which recognizes the year's "best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit".[23] It was the first graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award, Young People's Literature,[3] and won an Eisner Award for best new graphic album.[15] It has been on the Booklist top Ten Graphic Novel for Youth; NPR Holiday Pick, Publishers Weekly Comics Week Best Comic of the Year, San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, the National Cartoonists Society Award for Best Comic Book,[24] the Chinese American Librarians Association 2006/2007 Best Graphic Album – New, Time Top Ten Comic of the Year, and Best Graphic Novel/Comic of the year.[25]

In January 2016, Yang began serving a two-year term as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a program organized by the Children's Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.[26] In that same year, he served as honorary chair for the American Library Association's National Library Week. [27]

Yang was named to the 2016 class of the MacArthur Fellows Program, receiving what is commonly called the "Genius Grant". The MacArthur Foundation that names the fellows said that his "work for young adults demonstrates the potential of comics to broaden our understanding of diverse cultures and people."[28]

In 2020, Yang won two Harvey Awards for his works: Dragon Hoops for Book of the Year and Superman Smashes the Klan for Best Children or Young Adult Book.[29] At the 2021 Eisner Awards, Superman Smashes the Klan won both Best Publication for Kids and Best Adaptation from Another Medium while Dragon Hoops won Best Publication for Teens.[30][31]

In 2023, Yang was awarded the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature.[32]

Personal life

Yang is married to Theresa Kim, a development director for an elementary school. The couple have four children.[33][34]

Selected works

  • The Rosary Comic Book (Pauline Books & Media, 2003) A graphic novel telling of the stories behind the mysteries of the Catholic rosary in which each panel represents one of the prayers.[35]
  • Animal Crackers (SLG Publishing, 2004) Featuring Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks and Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order.[36]
  • American Born Chinese (First Second Books, 2006)[37]
  • The Eternal Smile (First Second Books, 2009). A collection of three short stories.[38]
  • Prime Baby (First Second Books, 2010) Thaddeus is upset to discover that not only is his baby sister (whom he hates) an inter-dimensional conduit for peace-loving aliens, but that nobody will believe him.[39]
  • Level Up (First Second Books, 2011) Dennis Ouyang's parents expect him to go to medical school instead of becoming a professional gamer. He finds himself trapped on the path to medical school by four angels and must find a way out.[40]
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, illustrated by Gurihiru (Dark Horse Comics, 2012–2017):
  • Boxers and Saints (First Second Books, 2013), Two novels set during the Boxer Uprising, Boxers describes the "bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers" who "roam the countryside bullying and robbing Chinese peasants". Little Bao, "harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods", recruits an army of Boxers, "commoners trained in kung fu who fight to free China from 'foreign devils.'"[46] Saints concerns an unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl, who finally finds friendship in Christianity. But bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. She will have to decide whether she is willing to die for her faith.[47] Boxers and Saints won the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature,[48] was nominated for the 2014 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel,[49] and was a 2013 National Book Award finalist.[50]
  • The Shadow Hero, illustrated by Sonny Liew (First Second Books, 2014) An origin story for the obscure Golden-Age comic book hero The Green Turtle, who is thought to be the first Asian-American superhero.[51]
  • Superman Vol.3 #41–50, illustrated by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson (DC Comics, 2015–2016)
  • Secret Coders, illustrated by Mike Holmes (First Second, 2015–)
    1. Secret Coders, 2015
    2. Paths & Portals, 2016[52]
    3. Secrets & Sequences, 2017
    4. Robots & Repeats, 2017
    5. Potions & Parameters, 2018
    6. Monsters & Modules, 2018
  • New Super-Man #1–18, series about a Chinese Superman, Kong Kenan (DC Comics, 2016–2018)
  • New Super-Man and the Justice League of China, the series concludes the adventures of Kong Kenan and the other Chinese heroes (DC Comics, 2018)
  • Free Comic Book Day: Fresh Off the Boat #1 (Boom! Comics, 2017)
  • Superman Smashes the Klan (DC Comics, 2019–2020)
  • The Terrifics #15–30 (DC Comics, 2019–2020)
  • Dragon Hoops (First Second Books, 2020)
  • Shang-Chi (Marvel Comics, 2020–2022)
  • Batman/Superman #16–22 (DC Comics, 2021)
  • Monkey Prince (DC Comics, 2021–2023)
  • Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings (Marvel Comics, 2022)
  • Shang-Chi: Master of the Ten Rings (Marvel Comics, 2023)
  • Lazarus Planet (DC Comics, 2023)
    • Lazarus Planet: Alpha, 2023
    • Lazarus Planet: Omega, 2023
  • Wolverine Vol. 7 #33 (Marvel Comics, 2023)
  • Lunar New Year Love Story, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (First Second Books, 2024)


  • Up All Night (Harper Collins) – 14-page short story
  • Secret Identities (The New Press) – 12-page short story
  • Strange Tales II (Marvel Comics) – 4-page short story
  • Nursery Rhyme Comics (First Second Books) – 1-page short story
  • Shattered (The New Press) – 4-page short story
  • Open Mic (Candlewick) – 4-page short story
  • Comic Squad: Recess! (Random House) – 12-page short story

See also


  1. ^ "杨谨伦:美生中国人的表述." (Archive) Government of the United States. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Antonucci, Lisa; Xochitl Ayon; Justin Beck; Cassandra Ulrich; Yahaira Vega; Alnas Zia (March 23, 2012). "A Biography of Gene Luen Yang". Archived from the original on October 18, 2011. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Hamline University". Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Chen, Alice C. (May 11, 2008). "The Humble Comic: Gene Yang's Christian take on being American-born Chinese fuels his emerging comics career". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  5. ^ George Gene Gustines, "Library of Congress Anoints Graphic Novelist as Ambassador for Young People’s Literature", The New York Times, January 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "Meet the 2016 MacArthur Fellows". John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  7. ^ Rozema, Robert (2013). "Gene Luen Yang on Iconography, Cultural Conflict, and his New Graphic Novel, Graphic Novel, Boxers and Saints Boxers and Saints". Language Arts Journal of Michigan. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c Yang, Gene. "Gene Yang Speaks as Part of Graphic Novel Speakers Series". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d "Story Hour in the Library: Gene Yang". December 2, 2010. Archived from the original on May 19, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  10. ^ a b Yang, Gene. "Comics". Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  11. ^ "Animal Crackers". Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  12. ^ Yang, Gene (2006). American Born Chinese. 01 First Second Books. pp. back cover. ISBN 978-0-312-38448-7.
  13. ^ "Interview with Gene Luen Yang". Winter 2007. pp. 84–88. Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 4, 2021). "Disney+ Greenlights 'American Born Chinese' Series From Melvin Mar, Kelvin Yu & Jake Kasdan; 'Shang-Chi's Destin Daniel Cretton To Direct". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Yang, Gene. "About". Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  16. ^ "Naming Super-Man". April 14, 2016.
  17. ^ Pinion, Kyle (July 10, 2019). "The long-awaited Superman Smashes the Klan debuts this October". The Beat. Archived from the original on July 11, 2019. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  18. ^ Gustines, George Gene (March 12, 2020). "A Shang-Chi Comic for Summer, Ahead of the Hero's Marvel Film". The New York Times.
  19. ^ "Meet the Monkey Prince: Yang and Chang Introduce DC's Newest Hero". DC. May 12, 2021. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  20. ^ Jacobs, Dale (January 2007). "More Than Words: Comics as a Means of Teaching Multiple Literacies". English Journal. 96 (3): 19–25. doi:10.2307/30047289. JSTOR 30047289.(registration required)
  21. ^ "Comics in Education: About Gene Yang". Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  22. ^ Gomez, Betsy (June 22, 2018). "Gene Luen Yang Joins CBLDF Board of Directors". ICv2. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "National Cartoonists Society". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  25. ^ "Awards and Honors - First Second". First Second. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  26. ^ "Yang Named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature".
  27. ^ American Library Association (2016). "Celebrate National Library Week". American Library Association via Retrieved March 9, 2023.
  28. ^ "MacArthur Foundation".
  29. ^ McMillan, Graeme (October 5, 2020). "2020 Harvey Award Winners Revealed". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  30. ^ Pantozzi, Jill (July 23, 2021). "SDCC 2021's Eisner Award Winners: Klan Smashing, Rabbit Samurai, & More". Gizmodo. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  31. ^ "Eisner Awards 2021: Three Awards for Gene Luen Yang". ICv2. July 23, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  32. ^ Vollmar, Rob (October 25, 2022). "2023 – Gene Luen Yang". Neustadt Prizes. Retrieved January 3, 2024.
  33. ^ Fuchs, Chris (January 7, 2016). "New Literature Ambassador Gene Luen Yang Lives Life, Builds Culture Through Stories". NBC News. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  34. ^ Gustines, George Gene (January 4, 2016). "Library of Congress Anoints Graphic Novelist as Ambassador for Young People's Literature". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  35. ^ Yang, Gene Luen (April 1, 2003). Rosary Comic Book: Includes the Luminous Mysteries. Pauline Books & Media. ISBN 978-0819864796 – via Amazon.
  36. ^ Yang, Gene Luen (October 23, 2012). Animal Crackers: A Gene Luen Yang Collection. SLG Publishing. ISBN 978-1593621834 – via Amazon.
  37. ^ Yang, Gene Luen (December 23, 2008). American Born Chinese. Square Fish. ISBN 978-0312384487 – via Amazon.
  38. ^ Yang, Gene Luen (April 27, 2009). The Eternal Smile: Three Stories. First Second. ISBN 978-1596431560 – via Amazon.
  39. ^ Yang, Gene Luen (April 13, 2010). "Prime Baby". First Second – via Amazon.
  40. ^ Yang, Gene Luen (June 7, 2011). Level Up. First Second. ISBN 978-1596432352 – via Amazon.
  41. ^ Yang, Gene Luen; DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Gurihiru (February 20, 2013). Marshall, Dave (ed.). Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise. Dark Horse Books. ISBN 9781616550745 – via Amazon.
  42. ^ Yang, Gene Luen; DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Gurihiru (February 5, 2014). Marshall (ed.). Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search. Dark Horse Books. ISBN 9781616552268 – via Amazon.
  43. ^ Yang, Gene Luen; DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Gurihiru (February 24, 2015). Marshall (ed.). Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift. Dark Horse Books. ISBN 9781616555504 – via Amazon.
  44. ^ Yang, Gene Luen; DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Gurihiru (September 21, 2016). Marshall (ed.). Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow. Dark Horse Books. ISBN 9781506700137 – via Amazon.
  45. ^ Yang, Gene Luen; DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Gurihiru (October 25, 2017). Marshall (ed.). Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South. Dark Horse Books. ISBN 9781506701950 – via Amazon.
  46. ^ Yang, Gene Luen; Pien, Lark; Yang, Gene Luen; Yang, Gene Luen (December 6, 2017). Boxers & saints. OCLC 825754024.
  47. ^ Yang, Gene Luen; Pien, Lark (December 6, 2017). Saints. Macmillan. ISBN 9781596436893. OCLC 823897885.
  48. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (April 11, 2014). "The winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are ..." Los Angeles Times.
  49. ^ Cavna, Michael (August 18, 2014). "Small Press Expo: Here are your nominees for the 2014 SPX Ignatz Awards…". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  50. ^ "National Book Awards 2013". National Book Foundation. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  51. ^ Yang, Gene Luen (July 15, 2014). "The Shadow Hero". First Second – via Amazon.
  52. ^ "Exclusive: Gene Luen Yang's Secret Coders, Vol. 2 Cover Reveal - Nerdist". August 13, 2015.

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Gene Luen Yang
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?