Once upon a time, what seems a long time ago now, the world looked at America, as a haven, a place where intolerance and hate were not only frowned upon but considered disgusting. In this magical and, every man and woman, had the same chances at the “American Dream.” This world as we know it is more fantasy than reality these days, as far as intolerance and hate goes as far as opportunity, it is more skewed by a variety of factors, that I can write a book about. As far as intolerance, it appears even before the recent rise of hate crimes, and as told by my own family, that these atrocities have always happened, but just never made the news.
The struggle of belonging and not belonging is the constant state of the immigrant, and their descendants, as one never feels like they really fit in. This is both hilariously and tragically told in Hasan Mihnaj’s Homecoming King, as he brilliantly illustrates just how no matter, how many times you feel as though you belong to “America,” there is someone who lets you know, you don’t. Within the realm of comics, the recent wave of comics, from DC and Marvel gives readers hope for a change, even the beautiful variant cover Bernard Chang did for New Super-Man #11, for AAPI month, is simply classic. So, when I heard about the recently indie published anthology of 20 different stories from several different Asian American comic book creators, Permanent Alien, other than Shattered Volumes 1, Secret Identities and Shards Volume 1, these collectives rarely happen, but nonetheless, happy to see them and to see them done as good.
In one of the opening stories, “Bus,” a common scene on a school bus, where the racial differences between children are discussed and stereotypes are dispelled. In “New year Cake,” a girl brings a traditional celebration cake for a school potluck, where she realizes she was the only own to eat from it. In “Don’t Tell Anyone,” a foreign student learns too fast the meaning of “loose lips sink ships” as an innocent friendship gets soiled by a careless mistake. In “Disconnect,” the falling out belief in the religion you grew up in, is beautifully told. In “Language parts 1, 2 and 3,” a scene which took place in my own house, is hilariously told, as the understanding of certain words from movies and TV shows of a native language is hilariously told in this comic. In “I mean, I guess,” a lifelong evasion by one individual ‘s family of an undiagnosed problem, highlights the problem of avoidance in the sort “I love Zach Galifianakis,” the problem of whitewashing is discussed with some light humor. “Where Are You From,” the ignorance of assuming you don’t belong is hilarious told in the narrator’s country where her parents come from and where she was born. In “Mestiza,” the struggle of Filipinos having to validate that we are Asians is beautifully told in this vignette. In the last standout, “Floating,” it tells of how it is to be an American student living in Korea, a stranger in the native land of your parents, a something barely gets told in any medium enough.
Overall, a beautiful book, that not only illustrates the need for diverse creators but how important to it is to understand one another. The stories within this book, are as different and familiar, as one might expect and more, as they are all vividly told. The art is luminously crafted, giving each story the perfect tones and colors. Altogether, an excellent book, which is beautifully illustrated and smartly told, that is a must read, not only in the canon of Asian-America but America, period.
Story: Hanna Cha, Mariel Rodriguez, Jean Wei, Michelle Zhuang, Angela Gao, Woong Ki Hong, Samrath Kaur, Jenn Lim, Li Bai, Sonja John, Tiffany Wei
Art: Hanna Cha, Mariel Rodriguez, Jean Wei, Michelle Zhuang
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy