by Angelica Hill (UK), Resident Press Corps
Film director and comic book writer Greg Pak came to International House on March 22, treating comic enthusiasts to an evening with the creator of some of their favorite comics and characters.
The Korean-American comic book writer, originally from Dallas, Texas, is best known for his work with Marvel, publishing such works as X-Treme X-Men and several comics featuring The Hulk, among them The Totally Awesome Hulk. He has also written for DC Comics, most recognizably the comic Teen Titans. In his film career he is best known for writing the film Robot Stories (2003).
Before the event an excited murmur of conversations could be heard about the characters Pak had created and his creative process. Some wondered how he broke into the industry and won recognition.
Dressed all in black, including a turtleneck and wellington boots, Pak spoke about his inspiration for becoming a comic writer, the classic sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury. He recounted how as a child he spent many hours drawing and writing poetry. He grew up an avid comic book reader and at a very young age fell in love with the character of The Hulk.
When he was 13 he even wrote a short poem about him:
Of course you realize that could be something monstrous –
Totally beyond your control
Someone could get hurt
If we’re not carful
So watch out
Out on the test-field, the bomb exploded
Hurtling gamma rays into
who turns green every once in a while
Despite his early love of comics and storytelling Pak at first did not see either as plausible careers.
For this reason, he dabbled in politics, and even spent some time working for Ann Richards, then Governor of Texas. While studying history at Oxford he joined the film society and his passion was ignited. Following his time at Oxford he enrolled in New York University to study film and got a job with Marvel soon after graduating.
Pak has worked in comics and storytelling ever since. A former boy scout, he admits being a little obsessed with heroism and the outdoors.
Many of his ideas for stories and characters, he said, are rooted in his experiences as an Asian-American child living in a small town.
He spoke about experiencing racism first-hand and his frustrations over the dearth of Asian-Americans in the comic-book world. Pak was also troubled by the stereotypical portrayal of minorities, feeling great excitement when he first saw an Asian character shown as a normal person.
Pak went on to create one of his best-known characters, Amadeus Cho, who is a regular Asian-American teenager who turns into The Hulk. This character allowed Pak to show the everyday life of Asian-Americans in a way many of his readers could relate to. Cho was the first Asian-American Marvel character.
He also talked about the process of creating comics: writing, drawing, inking, and producing the final product.
At the end he took questions from residents and gave out free comics, some of which he signed.
At this event residents gained insights on a creative industry from one of its most accomplished artists. Pak embraced and did not give up on a passion, even if at first he saw few opportunities to build a career. Ultimately, this passion brought him success and happiness.
“The moral of the evening is that if you have a passion go for it,” said one resident. “Don’t be afraid of failure because you will never know how it will go until you try.”
If you want to check out some of Pak’s work visit www.gregpak.com or follow him on Twitter at @gregpak