A man named CB Cebulski was working as an editor for Marvel Comics when he started writing under the pen-name Akira Yoshida. Cebulski has lived in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese which was one of the reasons he was originally hired by the company to work on their manga and Japanese based properties. At the time, Marvel Comics had a inner-company policy that editors could not also earn money as writers for them.
It’s not uncommon for writers to work under a pen-name, but now he’s receiving criticism for possibly violating company policy and specifically for posing as a Japanese creator.
His ruse also goes so far as to create a whole backstory for Yoshida and even giving email interviews posing as the fictional author. Apparently, Yoshida grew up in Japan and found a love for comics before his father moved him to America where he learned English and pursued a career in the industry. Evidently, Cebulski eventually admitted all of this to the people at Marvel, but it was never made public until recently.
As Yoshida, Cebulski was able to write for some of the big name titles like Thor and X-Men tie-in issues. It was always rumored that he had used this pen-name but it was never confirmed until just over a month ago, when he was named Marvel Comics newest Editor-in-Chief. This announcement garnered more attention than ever before and eventually resulted in him admitting to the false identity. Following his announcement and the subsequent criticism, Cebulski released this statement,
I’m truly sorry for the pain, anger, and disappointment I caused over my poor choice of pseudonym. That was never my intention. Throughout my career in anime, manga, and comics, I’ve made it a point to listen and learn from my mistakes, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to do with this misstep. Building honest relationships with creators has always been important to me, and I’ve continued to do that in my new position. I’ve spoken with talent close to this issue, and have had candid and productive conversations about how we can improve the industry and build better stories, while being mindful of the voices behind them. My passion has always been about bringing the best talent from across the world to work on the best stories in the world, and I’m hopeful that fans and creators alike will join us in that continued mission.
He also later stated that at the time he was, “young, naive, and had a lot to learn back then.” Many other comic book professionals have jumped up to defend him as a creator that is always globally minded and culturally sensitive. …But others have continued to criticize him for capitalizing on Japanese culture and stereotypes. Critics have also hit on Marvel for not trying harder to find authentic culturally diverse talent.
What do you think? Should writers be allowed to use pen-names that mislead??