Cons & immigration: interview with Yasmin Liang

6 MARCH 2017

Depending on whether or not you live in a border state, the current immigration debate may mean different things to you. My friends in New York and Boston, where I grew up, tend to focus on refugees; my current associates in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Silicon Valley tend to have more practical and immediate concerns, from friends, coworkers and employees getting deported (or just vanishing) to dealing with business and family upheavals.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned much is the impact on creatives, who frequently travel to promote their work, make appearances and collaborate. Writers and artists can get a lot done online but most eventually have to get on a plane to work with publishers and agents, do readings and tours or - for comic book professionals - appear at Comic Cons.

I talked to Yasmin Liang at Emerald City Comicon about her work - which you know from Steed and Mrs. Peel and Star Trek, among others - and the subject of immigration came up, as well as getting started as a young artist.

What’s your advice for young artists?

Draw what you want to be hired for.  And make sure there’s a 90 day limit for when you get paid in your contract. Make sure you have a contract.

What about education? Can people be self-taught or do they have to go to art school?

I think you can be self-taught. A lot of great artists were self-taught. And if you do go to art school, it’s what you get out of it – not the other way around.

What’s your dream project? Say, if time and money were not a constraint.

I’d like to go back and draw Star Trek again. I really enjoyed working on Star Trek but I didn’t have a lot of time. I think if I could go back, I’d be a better artist. And I’d really love to work with Mike Johnson and the rest of the team again .

What future projects are you working on?

Future projects? I can’t talk about them right now. But the Elements anthology is coming out, which Taneka Stotts put together. I have a story in there, with writing by JY Yang – we make a great team.

What Cons will you be at in the future?

Undecided. Maybe New York Comic Con. It depends on what happens with immigration.

How is immigration impacting artists?

It’s definitely impacting them. I know several who are unsure if we want to travel to the States anymore. We’re not just worried for ourselves but people we’re traveling with; I don’t want to get separated from my loved ones in any way.

That's kind of chilling. Thanks for sharing.

With so much politically in flux right now, it's hard to say how anything is going to play out in the future in terms of travel for comic and pop culture professionals. If you dismiss this as an issue that can't possibly impact successful people with big-name organizations behind them, it already has. Hopefully when the dust settles, pros will still be able to travel wherever they need to - with convenience and dignity - and Comic Cons will have more diversity and variety than ever.


  1. Are you going to post about registrations this weekend???

  2. The deportations have certainly affected all those in the creative community. But even the word deportation chills me with the unintended connection with Nazi Germany. So just as you mentioned, I'm hoping extremely creative individuals from all over world won't be fearful about coming here.

    1. Yes, lots of new/old words to re-learn these days. Deportation, detention center, visa waiver overstay.

      I just got called in to replace a creative team whose director is from Toronto. It's not just creatives who are afraid to come here, but businesses here afraid to invest in people who might run into problems.