Weiwei, born in Canada to Han Chinese parents, identifies herself as Canadian-born Chinese. Weiwei loves video games like Persona, anime, kpop, and reading about Chinese politics. She discovered Legacies on Zine Twitter.
Below are the responses from Weiwei Xu’s interview with Legacies Staff:
Is this your first publication? If not, what are some other projects/works you’ve done?
Nope, I’ve been a part of many original and fandom-based zines before, like Forged (sword girls theme), Comfort Food (….food theme :D) and Galforce (Fire Emblem girls theme).
How did you get into illustrating or writing?
My earliest drawing memory: My older sister drew a house once, when we were like 4 years old, and in classic younger-sister fashion, I was like “I can draw a house better than you can!!” So I spent the next few months drawing wobbly houses in an effort to one-up my sister. From there, it was trying to draw Disney princesses and cute animals to impress my friends at school.
What inspired you to contribute to the project? (Why did you want to contribute to this project?)
I’m literally always grappling with my own identity as a Chinese person, since I’m fairly “whitewashed” yet I also consume a lot of Asian pop culture/media. I wanted to find a way to visualise what I wanted to say, and to share my story!
How would you describe, or summarize, your submission?
You know 叶公好龙 (ye gong hao long)? That’s my comic in a nutshell. 叶公好龙 is a 4-word Chinese idiom based on a story about a dude who loves dragons soooo much he had them painted on all of his walls. Then one day, a real dragon comes down to thank him for his love, and he freaks out because he only liked images of dragons – the real thing was too much for him to handle. I’m him, and the dragon is China – I feel like a fake fan sometimes because I love being the Token Asian in Canada, but China feels alien to me.
What was the hardest things to write/draw about? (I.e. revisiting a trauma, self-realization, etc.) In other words, did you struggle to write/draw a certain aspect?
Nothing emotionally hard to draw, but planning out whole comics was rather challenging in terms of composition/technique 😀
Why did you choose to write/illustrate your specific submission? (What was the significance of your submission?)
My piece is about how I went from thinking China was this monolith country that could be represented by fun little symbols (red bags, pandas, bamboo furniture, etc) to realising it’s a giant sprawling mess of people from all sorts of backgrounds – and through this, realising that my inability to speak mandarin fluently doesn’t actually make me less “Chinese” than I am. Honestly, the more that I learn about China’s history and why things are the way they are there, the less I think the word “Chinese” means anything. China’s so big that it feels like it’s barely held together by any collective unity.
What, in your opinion, were setbacks you had to face, if any, and why? (I.e. time, memory, self-righteousness, etc.)
I know I have a tendency to be fake-deep or to say very little with a lot of words, so I overthink every single detail to compensate. And even then, I’m not sure if I chose the right words and right images to draw.
Was there anything you couldn’t address in your submission? If so, what were they?
I have a lot of small thought-fragments about being AsAm but it’s hard to string them together into one cohesive narrative, so I left out a lot of things (even though I feel like they might have been good relatable content. Maybe next time!)
What were the most important things you wanted to hit on in your submission? (What did you want to highlight?)
The idea that China is not a monolith – there are minorities, people who don’t speak the national language at all, people who don’t like what you’d think a Chinese person would look like… and so, the identity of being a “Chinese” person is up to you to define.
What do you hope readers/people will gain from reading/seeing your work? (What do you want people to take away from your work?)
I want them to be like, “Oh! That’s me.” and to have a thought process to fall back on whenever they’re doubting the validity of their own identity, if they struggle with something like that!
What is your definition of being AsAm, if you have one?
If you have any sort of Asian ethnicity and you’re a citizen of America, you’re AsAm. No other qualifiers.
What does writing/illustrating for this anthology mean to you?
A lot of different things! I’ve never drawn a multi-page comic before, and although I’ve always wanted to I’ve never had the hard deadlines/motivation to actually do it until participating in this anthology. It’s also an honour to have my art in a collection alongside so many other Asian creators I admire! And as someone who dearly wishes they were more in tune with their own Asian heritage, I look forward to looking at everyone elses’ art because I need more Asian content in my life!!!
What food/drink most reminds you of home/childhood? Why do you think food is so important to Asian American culture?
Dumplings and jelly tubes. Dumplings because it’s an Asian food whose preparation I learned as a kid, and mom-and-me kitchen memories are just… classic nostalgia fodder. Jelly tubes because every time we shopped at the little asian goods grocery store in Chinatown, the cashier handed out free jelly tubes to the kids. The day I was too old to warrant a jelly tube from the cashier, my heart broke and that’s when I knew I was a Teenager. Food is so important to AsAm culture because it’s the easiest way for us to connect with our Asian roots! It’s the one cultural thing that always brings joy, and for a group of people who often doubt the “Asian-ness” of their identity, it’s also a reaffirmation, even when other aspects of Asian tradition don’t feel quite as familiar.