Superheroes belong to all of the world and not just America.
In an effort to break cultural barriers, DC Comics has created a Chinese avatar of Clark Kent. In China, he will be called Kenan Kong. Titled New Super-Man, the first edition will be available on July 13 in print as well as digital download.
Written by Chinese-American Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by artist Victor Bogdanovic, New Super-Man’s storyline will be similar to the American comics version, except that it will be adapted to the Chinese culture.
“Everybody in the world recognizes Superman,” Yang told NBC News. “The reason he transcends cultures is that he embodies these ideals that are international, that are cross-cultural. We wanted to tell a story that was about the Superman ideal but tell it in a different culture. Regardless of where you grow up, you know what he stands for.” Yang added.
In a DC comics blog post, Yang revealed how he came up with his protagonist’s name.
“I thought for a while and came up with these constraints: The name would need to be a plausible Chinese name. The name’s meaning should relate to the character’s journey in some way. The English version of the Chinese name should be derived using Pinyin. There are different ways of Romanizing Chinese. A lot of what we see in American Chinatowns uses a system called Wade-Giles (or is “Wade-Giles-ish”). Pinyin is now the standard in Mainland China, so that’s what I want to use in the book. The English version should have the initials K. K. I want to use this as a mnemonic device to help readers connect the new character to Clark Kent. I can’t use C. K. because there is no hard c in Pinyin. The Pinyin c is pronounced ‘ts,’ like in ‘cats’. The English version should be immediately pronounceable by American readers who haven’t studied Pinyin. This means I have to avoid certain letters like x (pronounced kind of like “sh” in Pinyin) and q (pronounced kind of like ‘ch’).
In the American version, Clark Kent is a journalist with Daily Planet. But not much is known about the Superman from Shanghai. Yang, however, said that Kong will go through a lot of pain and struggle to attain his superhero capabilities.
Find out what fans are saying in these Instagram posts.
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The star of Gene Luen Yang’s upcoming seriesNew Super-Man, Chinese hero Kenan Kong won’t just be a Superman with a hyphen in his superhero name. However, choosing the new Super-Man’s civilian name was the most challenging task for Yang. #superman #kenankong #dccomics
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