American Born Chinese, Through The Woods, and Hark! A Vagrant | Comic Review

★★★★/★★★★★ : American Born Chinese by Gene Luan Yang.

“It’s easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

When I first read this graphic novel, I was not impressed. Later I realized, it was because I had not understood it fully. So I went online, learned who the Monkey King was, and reread the entire thing. I am glad I did that, otherwise the morals of the story would have evaded me.

This follows three stories, one follows the legend of Monkey King, the other is about a second-generation Chinese-American, and the other of a white American kid whose stereotypical Chinese cousin comes to visit. Although unrelated at first, we later learn they are all connected in ways we could not have suspected. It might take two reads for people to truly see what happened.

The book is a deep exploration of the immigrant experience in America, following the struggles of recent immigrants all the way to various native born generations. Everything from learning the language and assimilating in order to fit in, and ignoring their roots, to the daily racial struggles of people.

I am an immigrant, and I had to assimilate. However, due to my ethnicity, after I was fully capable of speaking the language, I stopped experienced the issues that my POC counterparts still face everyday. This book took my back to that time, as to remind me to never forget that even though I stopped struggling, there are many more, in increasing numbers, out there that need to feel welcome, not outsiders. 

★★★★/★★★★★ : Through The Woods by Emily Carroll.

This graphic novel tells five different stories, that only have in common the colour used to depict the images and the eerie feel they give. They are sort of weird fairy tales, without the fairies, but with a moral anyways, however, the morals for me are a bit fuzzy,because a lot can be interpreted. I do also have to say that this is one of the most beautiful art and lettering I’ve ever seen, particularly the use of red and blue as the main colours. Yet I was upset that all of the stories leave an aura of mystery and nothing is explained. I guess that is a compliment for most people, but it left me feeling like something was missing. 

“Oh, but you must travel through those woods again and again… said a shadow at the window… and you must be lucky to avoid the wolf every time…
But the wolf… the wolf only needs enough luck to find you once.”

Most of her other works are online for free on her website, so if you are not sure if you wish to read a horror comic, and wish to see her method before reading anything by her, any of her stories there are a good place to start. I do have to warn, that her tone in all of her works are extremely similar, as well as her use of colour. 


★★★/★★★★★ : Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton.

These comic strips are for fans of literature, and science, and history. They are filled with hilarious fictional accounts depicting some of the most known and regarded characters and events in history, including, but not limited to, the Brontes, the Kennedys, the Borgias, the Tudors, Shakespeare, Ada Lovelace. They can also be found on her website for free. 

I quite enjoyed a lot of the things here, such as ” Every Lady Scientist Who Ever Did Anything Till Now,” and “French Revolution Comics,” which showed hilarious sides to things, brilliantly done. These are for people who had to endure horrible classes back in school, with teachers that made everything boring, who will be introduced to her to how fun the topics can actually be.

This is a book that we will give to our grandchildren just to see their confusing faces whenever they react to her hilarity. 


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