The newly-promoted Marvel Entertainment Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski has publicly confirmed that he wrote for Marvel and other companies under a Japanese secret identity in the early 2000s. Cebulski wrote under the name 'Akira Yoshida' concurrently to writing and editing for Marvel under his own name. This revelation has raised concerns of cultural appropriation by the long-time Marvel employee.
"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. "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.”
Marvel subsequently acknowledged to Variety that they have been aware of the situation for some time, and given his hire seem to be at peace with it, but it's not clear who knew about the pseudonym at the time. In 2005, then-Marvel editor Mike Marts told Comics Should Be Good that he had lunch with Yoshida and that it was not a pseudonym. In the past, the company has kept some creators' pseudonyms private.
The first published work by 'Akira Yoshida' was a story in the 2004 anthology Hellboy: Weird Tales #4, drawn by Kia Asiyama. Following that, Cebulski-as-Yoshida wrote several titles for Marvel including X-Men/Fantastic Four, Elektra: The Hand, Thor: Son of Asgard, X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, and Wolverine: Soultaker. Yoshida's final published credit at Marvel was the late 2005 X-Men: Kitty Pryde - Shadow & Flame miniseries, although Cebulski-as-Yoshida returned to Dark Horse for one more project - 2006's Conan and the Demons of Khitai.
While Marvel had a publicly-revealed internal policy at the time to restrict editors from writing for the company, Cebulski was among several including then-Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada who were permitted to write Marvel projects.
The conclusion of Cebulski's Marvel writing work as Yoshida coincided with Cebulski's departure from the company as an editor after four years. At the time, Cebulski stated the departure was to focus more on creator-owned projects including several Image Comics projects and an international anthology, Jetlag. Cebulski returned to Marvel, however, in late 2006, to lead the company's new Talent Development department. Cebulski resumed writing for Marvel intermittently after this, under his own name.
Creators have written under pseudonyms in the past, going all the way back to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, but Cebulski-as-Yoshida furthered the issue by conducting interviews as the seemingly Japanese-born writer including this 2004 interview with Newsarama's Vaneta Rogers. In this, he's asked about why Japanese culture is compelling in Western writing.
"People always ask Japanese writers and artists why Catholic and Christian religious symbolism is so prevalent in many Japanese manga and anime series, like Trigun or Helsing or Chrono Crusade. They seem to think that the creators are trying to make some kind of statement about Western religion in contrast to Buddhism and Shinto. Sorry, but it is usually nothing that deep," Cebulski-as-Yoshida replied. "The answers are much more simple... 1.) Crosses and religious symbolism look cool and provide great imagery, 2.) Japanese people don't really understand Western religion so the creators can take a few more liberties in telling stories about these practices, and 3.) there is an air of mystery surrounding Western religion and its history of violence that makes for great stories. I think these same three points hold true for the Western fascination with Japanese history and culture. It's cool, it's mysterious and it makes for exciting, violent comics and games."
Yoshida was described as a Japanese-born writer in a 2005 CBR profile, and included several biographical details that the site's managing editor Albert Ching now reports were provided by Yoshida in e-mails as factual.
"To begin with, Yoshida grew up in Japan reading manga. Since his father was in international business, he spent parts of his childhood living in the U.S. where he learned English by reading superhero comics and watching TV and movies," reads the 2005 profile. "As a child, the writer said he always wanted to work in either the Japanese manga or American comics industry. Fortunately, he’s had the privilege of doing both as an adult."
According to Cebulski's Facebook profile, he was born in Easton, Connecticut and attended graduated from an area high school as Chester B. Cebulski. He states that he went on Tufts University in Massachusetts with a stint in Japan at Kwansai Gakuin University as well.