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Giant Robot: Thirty Years of Defining Asian-American Pop Culture

    It was celebrating the pop culture phenomenon that redefined what it meant to be Asian-American with tributes from Margaret Cho, Randall Park, Jia Tolentino, and more.

    Los Angeles, 1994. Two Asian-American punk rockers staple together the zine of their dreams featuring Sumo, Hong Kong Cinema and Osamu Tezuka. From the very margins of the DIY press and alternative culture, Giant Robot burst into the mainstream with over 60,000 copies in circulation annually at its peak. Giant Robot even popped off the page, setting up a restaurant, gallery, storefronts in LA, and galleries and stores in New York and San Francisco. As their influence grew in the 90s and 00s, Giant Robot was eventually invited to the White House by Barack Obama, to speak at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and to curate the GR Biennale at the Japanese American National Museum.

    Home to a host of unapologetically authentic perspectives bridging the bicultural gap between Asian and Asian-American pop culture, GR dared to print such topics side-by-side and become a touchstone for generations of artists, musicians, creators, and collectors in a pre-social media era. Nowhere else were pieces on civil rights activists running next to articles on skateboarding and Sriracha. Toy collectors, cartoonists, and street-style pioneers got as many column inches as Michelle Yeoh, Karen O, James Jean, and Haruki Murakami.

    Giant Robot: Thirty Years of Defining Asian-American Pop Culture features the best of the magazine’s sixty-eight issue run alongside never-before-seen photographs, supplementary writing by long-term contributing journalist Claudine Ko, and tributes from now-famous fans who’ve been around since day one. Margaret Cho, Daniel Wu, and Randall Park celebrate Giant Robot’s enduring legacy alongside pioneering pro-skateboarder Peggy Oki, contemporary art giant Takashi Murakami, culinary darling Natasha Pickowicz, and critically acclaimed essayist Jia Tolentino.

    Eric Nakamura founded Giant Robot as a photocopied and stapled zine in 1994 and grew the publication until late 2010. Giant Robot magazine reached a multiracial audience interested in Asian popular culture and became known as the premier magazine in the field. Nakamura built on the success of Giant Robot with stores and galleries in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and has curated over 300 exhibitions. Currently, Nakamura works in and owns the Giant Robot store and GR2 Gallery in Los Angeles,­­ which continues to offer pop culture goods and hold art exhibitions.

    Coming Spring 2024 – GIANT ROBOT: 30 Years of Defining Asian-American Pop Culture, edited by Eric Nakamura, published by D+Q!

    Tony M.