As more and more western franchises arrive on Eastern shores, taking advantage of the large financial pot, that is China and Japan, Superman is next to get take advantage of a cultural shift.
DC Comics has announced that Clark Kent will be called Kenan Kong in an attempt to break cultural barriers. One of the most interesting reasons for this change in name, is that in the Japanese common Kenji it would be a bit of a nightmare with a direct translation.
As you can see from the new image of Kenan Kong, he’s been adapted to fit Chinese culture.
“Everybody in the world recognizes Superman,” Yang told NBC News. “The reason he transcends cultures is that he embodies these ideals that are international, that are cross-cultural. We wanted to tell a story that was about the Superman ideal but tell it in a different culture. Regardless of where you grow up, you know what he stands for.” Yang added.
On the DC Comic official Blog post, writer Gene Luen Yang explains where how it came up with the name:
“I thought for a while and came up with these constraints: The name would need to be a plausible Chinese name. The name’s meaning should relate to the character’s journey in some way. The English version of the Chinese name should be derived using Pinyin. There are different ways of Romanizing Chinese. A lot of what we see in American Chinatowns uses a system called Wade-Giles (or is “Wade-Giles-ish”). Pinyin is now the standard in Mainland China, so that’s what I want to use in the book. The English version should have the initials K. K. I want to use this as a mnemonic device to help readers connect the new character to Clark Kent. I can’t use C. K. because there is no hard c in Pinyin. The Pinyin c is pronounced ‘ts,’ like in ‘cats’. The English version should be immediately pronounceable by American readers who haven’t studied Pinyin. This means I have to avoid certain letters like x (pronounced kind of like “sh” in Pinyin) and q (pronounced kind of like ‘ch’).
New Super-Man will arrive in China on July 13th in Print and Digital Download.