Marvel Comics Chief C.B. Cebulski Accused of Cultural Appropriation After Fake Asian Pen Name Exposed

C.B. Cebulski , Senior Vice President Marvel Studios/Disney speaks during the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands on September 01, 2013 in Singapore. The STGCC brings the best of pop culture from East and West, uniting the worlds …
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Marvel Comics’ new editor in chief, C.B. Cebulski, is being accused of “cultural appropriation” after being exposed for having used an Asian pen name to write “Japanese-y” comics for Marvel early in his comic book career.

Cebulski, who is white, used the pseudonym “Akira Yoshida” in the early 2000s. Marvel “substantiated” the fake persona in written interviews to comics fan sites saying that Cebulski was a Japanese man who came to America to write comics with an Asian flair.

Comic book news writer Rich Johnston had suspicions years ago that this “Akira Yoshida” was a pseudonym. But, in 2006, Cebulski came forward to assure fans that Yoshida was a “real person.”

“It was at the beginning of 2006 that I first asked then-Marvel associate editor C.B. Cebulski if he wrote using the pseudonym Akira Yoshida,” Johnston wrote at the time. “He had heard the rumor and denied it, telling me that Akira Yoshida was an actual person and that his numerous office visits and convention appearances debunked it. He promised pictures, but none were forthcoming.”

But this week, Cebulski has admitted that he did, indeed, pretend to be an Asian man over a decade ago. In a statement to Bleeding Cool, the new Marvel boss said:

I stopped writing under the pseudonym Akira Yoshida after about a year. It wasn’t transparent, but it taught me a lot about writing, communication, and pressure. I was young and naïve and had a lot to learn back then. But this is all old news that has been dealt with, and now as Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief, I’m turning a new page and am excited to start sharing all my Marvel experiences with up and coming talent around the globe.

“Akira Yoshida” is listed on Marvel’s website as a writer for Marvel starting in 2004 with titles including Thor: Son of Asgard and X-Men: Kitty Pride — Shadow & Flame, the last of which was published in 2005.

Despite giving written interviews posing as an Asian writer, Cebulski now says that he took up the fake name to serve dual roles at Marvel as both an editor and a writer without conflicts appearing in his roles.

The new Marvel boss also used the fake name to write for other comic book publishers such as Dark Horse and Dreamwave. It appears that Marvel may have been temporarily fooled into thinking “Akira Yoshida” was a real person but Cebulski reportedly admitted quickly that the name was his pen name.

While Marvel has yet to issue an official statement on the matter, Marvel editor and head of character development Sana Amanat came to Cebulski’s defense saying that the new editor-in-chief did fine work as a “Japanese” writer because he “understood” Japanese culture:

“He’s one of my favorite people (and) I think many people who know CB will know that he is one of the most globally minded, and very culturally sensitive as well.

That man has lived in Japan, speaks Japanese, and has lived all over the world. He very much associates with Japanese culture. And I think that him writing, for whatever time it was, was him trying to be a writer more than anything else.”

The story has given rise to accusations of “cultural appropriation” by left-leaning comics fans and social justice warriors.

Also, the situation brought Gizmodo to lament, “From the outside looking in, it appears as if Marvel would rather hire white people masquerading as minorities, rather than making an earnest effort to tap into the vast community of creatives of color trying to break into the industry.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.