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Screenwriter and director Steven DeKnight is halting work with Marvel Comics after learning that Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski once pretended to be Japanese to further his career.
“How does this man still have a job? Completely unacceptable,” DeKnight wrote Saturday, beginning a series of tweets in which he eventually announced his resignation. “I love working with Marvel but will not pursue or accept future work until this is resolved. I hope other more high profile creatives in the comic book biz will follow suit.”
DeKnight has written for several Marvel comics, such as “Wolverine: Black, White & Blood.” A representative said Marvel has nothing new to share about the matter.
Cebulski admitted in 2017 that he used the name “Akira Yoshida” and published several Marvel comics under it in the early 2000s, many of them with Asian characters and themes.
“It’s just another example of non-Asians feeling they are more authoritative than actual Asian people,” Keith Chow, the editor-in-chief of The Nerds of Color, a cultural criticism site, told NBC News in 2017. “People of color are not costumes you can just wear when it suits you.”
Marvel still has a page up online crediting work to the pseudonym, attributing dozens of projects to “Yoshida.” Cebulski spun an elaborate backstory that Yoshida was a translator who previously worked in manga and was friends with artists like Pat Lee. He even gave interviews under the pseudonym, according to Bleeding Cool, the comic news site that broke the story.
Marvel confirmed the claims to NBC News in 2017, and after years of denial, Cebulski admitted to Bleeding Cool that “Yoshida” was, in fact, him.
“It wasn’t transparent, but it taught me a lot about writing, communication and pressure. I was young and naive and had a lot to learn back then. But this is all old news that has been dealt with,” he said.
Marvel also provided a statement he made during the original controversy in 2017.
“I’m truly sorry for the pain, anger, and disappointment I caused over my poor choice of pseudonym,” Cebulski said. “That was never my intention. Throughout my career in anime, manga, and comics, I’ve made it a point to listen and learn from my mistakes, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to do with this misstep.”
The explanation and apology are not enough for DeKnight.
“Personally, I’m not looking to destroy the guy’s life. But I also don’t think he’s fit to be the editor-in-chief, either,” he said on Twitter. “His actions — which, for those just joining us, go far beyond adopting a Japanese pseudonym.”
Although DeKnight mentioned in his tweets that he does not believe Cebulski had racist intentions, he said the editor’s actions showed a “deep lack of ethics.”
“At the very least, I think Cebulski needs to sit down with representatives from the Asian community and have a truly honest discussion about his actions,” he tweeted.
Sakshi Venkatraman is a reporter for NBC Asian America.
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