Gene Luen Yang On Failure

By Maryann Yin 

Gene Luen YangAward-winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang has written an article for NEA Arts Magazine. For this issue, every article focuses on the topic of “failure.” Yang feels that “good things can come out of failure”; he uses Spider-Man as an example of how one might be able to benefit from suffering through a failure.

Yang explains: “He has a great character arc in which he started off in failure. His whole origin theory centers around the death of his uncle. He had this opportunity to stop his uncle’s killer and he didn’t do it. The very first thing he did as a superhero was fail, so his entire career is built on that one failure. It just shows, I think, that failure can be fruitful.”

Yang also shares his thoughts on “how to define success and failure,” “on knowing when to trash it,” and “managing the fear of failure.” Some of the other contributors include Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen, and opera singer Janai Brugger. What methods do you turn to for dealing with failure?