GeeksofDoom.com has posted a big interview with comic book writer and filmmaker Greg Pak about everything from Texas politics to “Robot Stories” to Asian American themes to Skaar, Son of Hulk! Here’s an excerpt:
GoD: Your early film work seems to have focused on Asian American themes, such as Fighting Grandpa and Asian Pride Porn. Without necessarily connecting the two (which would seem, on the surface, awkward), you obviously have a deep influence from your heritage. Tell us a little about your early film work and where you drew your inspiration.
GP: I’m half Korean and half white. These days, people usually think I’m the same ethnicity as whomever I’m standing next to — Latino or Arab or Jewish or Native American or Dutch or whatever — I’ve heard it all. But I’ve always identified strongly as Asian American. When I was a kid I looked pretty much straight up Asian and got my share of racist taunts. But my parents taught me to be proud of my heritage and the Boy Scouts taught me that America was all about liberty and justice for all. The upshot is that I think a big motivating factor for me in becoming a storyteller was this desire to break down the barriers that separate people, to do my little bit to humanize different kinds of people.
“Fighting Grandpa” was my thesis film at NYU — it’s a documentary that asks whether my Korean grandparents ever really loved each other. It’s an incredibly specific story, rooted in one Korean American family’s unique quirks and history. But after screenings, people of all different backgrounds would come up to me and say that that was the story of their grandparents. That meant a great deal to me on a personal level, of course. But it also made me happy because it meant that folks of all different backgrounds had bonded with these Asian American people on the screen in a way that they might never have before. And in a world in which Asians are still horribly stereotyped and ridiculed in the most repellently racist ways in all kinds of media, that felt like a good thing.
In a kind of crazy way, those same impulses have probably helped me write the Hulk. On one level, “Planet Hulk” is about how what we think we know about a person can be completely wrong. Everyone knows the Hulk and his Warbound companions are monsters. But by the end of the story, we realize they may just be heroes. People are always deeper and usually better than the stereotypes would have us believe.