The Strange Tale of Akira Yoshida

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A few weeks ago, we had published a story that C.B. Cebulski had been named the new Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics.    Yesterday afternoon, a very bizarre story came out in the Los Angeles Times about C.B. Cebulski having an alter-ego…

It turns out new Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski has a hidden past: He used to moonlight as a Japanese comic book writer. No, not as a writer of Japanese comics.  


The Times has confirmed that Cebulski used to write for Marvel Comics under the name Akira Yoshida.


“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,” Cebulski told Bleeding Cool, which first reported the news. “I was young and naïve and had a lot to learn back then.”


Cebulski also shared that all of this had already been “dealt with” over at Marvel and discussed how he is shifting his focus on his new role as editor-in-chief.


The story explains that Cebulski wrote using the name Yoshida partly because of Marvel policy at that time preventing staff from writing or drawing in Marvel titles (for additional pay).


But Yoshida is bit more than a mere nom de plume. The fictional writer had an entire backstory explaining how, in addition to growing up reading manga in Japan, he learned English through his exposure to U.S. superhero comics from his father’s job. The backstory even detailed how Yoshida kicked off his career writing American comics.


That Yoshida’s résumé includes writing on titles such as “Wolverine: Soultaker” and “X-Men: Kitty Pryde — Shadow & Flame” adds additional complications to Cebulski’s reveal. Both series took popular Marvel characters to Japan as they encountered ancient gods, demons and ninjas.


As if these details weren’t already a bit incredible, Bleeding Cool also reported that people who remembered meeting “Akira Yoshida” in person actually met “a Japanese translator who had visited the offices ... who was mistakenly identified as Akira Yoshida.”


When reached for comment on Tuesday, Marvel confirmed Cebulski’s use of the name Akira Yoshida but no other details from Bleeding Cool’s reporting and replied, “we don’t have a statement at this time.”

Source: Los Angeles Times


Commentary: This is a pretty crazy story. Basically, Marvel policy at the time was that if you were a staffer for Marvel, you could not get additional pay to write or draw comics for Marvel. C.B. Cebulski claims that he had created the pen name of Akira Yoshida so he could start working as a full time comic writer, looking to transition out of Marvel entirely.  He did some work for Dreamwave and Dark Horse, and another Marvel editor reached out offering work, having no idea that Cebulski was Akira.  


Strangely enough, some people have said that they had actually met Akira Yoshida over the years, so I am real curious what that is all about.  Cebulski said that this was all dealt with by Marvel years ago.  He certainly could have been fired, but Marvel decided to punish him and move on.  


One thing that has been coming out about this story is that C.B. Cebulski was portraying himself as Japanese when he was using the name “Akira Yoshida.”  This wasn’t just a pen name; he even had a fictional biography about growing up in Japan and learning English through superhero comics.  And Marvel hired him to work on books that seem heavily rooted in Japanese culture and history. Look, I know people lie all the time on their resumes, but I can’t help but think of the scandal around Rachel Dolezal.  


Marvel seems to always be trying to make the effort to include more diversity, and having Cebulski as the Editor In Chief after this whole crazy situation seems like it can bring all the wrong kind of attention to the company.  Personally, I have always felt that the only way we can get more true diversity in comics is by bringing in more diverse creators and editors.  Maybe Marvel should have given the Editor-in-Chief job to someone who is actually Asian and not just “played one on TV.”  

Author Note: Additional information for this story came from Bleeding Cool.