Tag Archives: Graphic memoir

Review: I Was Their American Dream

I Was Their American Dream

Existing in a “hyphen” is a central part of everyone’s existence in America. It’s even more so around the world. Japan, through Naomi Osaka, showed the world how much African Japanese citizens are embraced by their country but revealed more about the world to Japan and those who watched her. The world has not progressed more than what it would like to believe by the media’s use of adjectives when describing the Tennis phenom.

This should not be a surprise. Years before, the world exposed how different cultures viewed Black men in powerful positions, with President Obama. Despite his many successes, he was seen not only by pundits from the other political parties but also by certain countries as inferior. They avoided actually saying those words, but did it through “dog whistles” and allusions. The famous Filipino American historian, Kevin Nadal, calls them  “microaggressions.”

Both Osaka and  Obama are products of two cultures, what the Japanese call Hapa. Spanish cultures including those colonized by the Spaniards, like the Philippines, are called, “mestizo” or “moreno.” My children, many of my friends,  and myself, all children born of two cultures, grew up celebrating our kaleidoscope of cultures. How lucky we were to be “of” both. In the world we all live in now there’s a shameful need to have to hide these traits in fear of being ostracized or harassed.

What most people don’t get about being a child of immigrants is that we feel we don’t need to choose between the two. We see ourselves as both and the one thing, even if they don’t say it, is that we are the hopes and dreams of our parents, no matter where they came from.

In Malaka Gharib’s entertaining and true to life, I Was Their American Dream, we find one such protagonist whose existence within the hyphen proves for a life more interesting than most.

We open on the author explaining to the audience the hierarchy of her family, and who they are to her, as she grew without both her parents not living on the same roof. She earnestly shows us who her mother is, how and why she came , as the rule of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, made many Filipinos flee to other countries like Canada and America, as Malaka’s mother was in the same predicament as her grandfather, her Lolo, whom she called Tatay, as she would be the first, and would send for the rest of her family members once she got settled. Her father, had a different path to the come to the U.S. from Cairo, Egypt, as a teenager, he was obsessed with American movies, as they inspired him, enough that he had a plan to go there. As they met like so many love stories start, working together, as her father was the night manager at the Best Western where they both worked and bonded over movies. They got married six months after their first date and had Malaka a year after they married.

Eventually, their differences would outweigh their love for each other, leading them to divorce, as they realized they were by far from the dreams they had for themselves if they stayed together. As the reality that Malaika, grew up with, is one familiar to those who lived with immigrant parents, as what most Americans were used to giving like allowances and parents playing sports with them, as it was simply an American fantasy to many of us. As both her parents got remarried, she ended having more siblings, firstly from her mother, who gave birth to her sister, Min Min, and her father ended up moving back to Cairo, where he got a job a big hotel chain there and remarried. Who and what she got exposed to culturally, learned more in one direction, but as every child whose parents come from two different faiths, her adolescent life became that much more confusing as her mother was Catholic and her father was Muslim, where she had to pray to God and Allah. As both religions, had their own customs and rites to becoming one, often leaving our protagonist contradicting one over the other and complicated for her at the same time.

Malaka, had a unique living situation, her parents made a deal, during the school year, she would live with her mother and in the summers, she would stay with her Dad and his new family in Cairo. As she found Egypt, surprisingly fun, as the homelife there was different but easier than back in California, as she found one of her most important relationships, with her stepmother, Hala, her stepmother, who she found a connection, though in a different maternal way. Meanwhile, back in high school, she struggled with her identity, as she got the dread question , most of us of mixed heritage usually hear at some point, “What Are You?”, this being further complicated by the fact she loved pop culture, especially shows like Felicity, which caused many of her classmates to label her “poser” and “whitewashed”, because they thought she was acting white. Eventually, she would find her own tribe and would use what made her unique, to college, Syracuse University, where she truly found herself.

When she graduated, she entered the workforce, and heeded the words of her Tito Maro, her Mom’s brother, as it was something more than what her uncle was able to see, as Hasan Minhaj pointed out in his Netflix special, Homecoming King, “the tax for coming to America”, but has generation and Malaka’s , these “microaggressions” were rampant amongst her coworkers and even, her friends. Eventually, she would meet her husband, Darren, who her parents loved and were both there for her wedding.

By book’s end, Malaka returns to Egypt with her husband, remembering visiting her Dad when she was younger and how this land and the Philippines, is part of her and would be for her children.

Overall, a penetrating memoir that’s leaves nothing on the cutting room floor, giving a rarely told insight into life as a multi-hyphenate. The stories by Gharib are heartfelt, honest, funny, and relevant. The art by Gharib is warm, inviting, and lovely. Altogether, an excellent graphic chronicle which shows that what makes you unique, is truly what makes you beautiful.

Story: Malaka Gharib Art: Malaka Gharib
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: One Dirty Tree

Noah Van Sciver‘s graphic memoir exploring his life as a child juxtaposed with his turning 30. It’s a fascinating look into his family life including his Mormon upbringing.

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle

Uncivilized Books provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Superman Isn’t Jewish (But I Am… Kinda)

Superman Isn't Jewish (But I Am… Kinda)

When it comes to representation, children look for it in some of the most interesting of places.  I remember growing up watching Saturday morning cartoons and being able to identify with Tonto in the Lone Ranger cartoon. It wasn’t because I felt I was the good best friend or the sidekick to anyone but just because he was Brown like me. I look back at how I first tried to identify with characters that look like me and see now just how marginalized society saw us even in fictional worlds. This affected my upbringing, as I realized then that I would never really be seen for all I could possibly be.

Fast forward to today. Those same children my age and the prevailing generations that came after felt this same pain until recently. The world has never monolith or monochromatic and entertainment has recently recognized that. Comics, books, tv shows and movies have “normalized” what the masses have been yearning for. In Jimmy Bemon ’s Superman Isn’t Jewish (But I Am… Kinda), one such creator explores his identity through the prism of superheroes.

We are taken to Nice, France 1984, where a young boy, Benjamin, gets his first lesson Jewish identity from his father, who regals him with the ranks of famous people who just so happen to be Jewish, including Superman. This was a badge of honor. From the time his father let him know that Superman was Jewish, his appreciation for his faith and culture became that much more emboldened. He also in due course found out how being Jewish also made him different. And, like every kid, he just wants to fit in. He soon finds a friend, in Momo, who like Benjamin, hates to be ostracized because of his culture, so he adapted an Arabic identity versus his true nationality of Portuguese. The graphic novel follows Benjamin through his life as he explores his identity.

Overall, Superman Isn’t Jewish (But I Am… Kinda) is an impressive graphic memoir that explores self, religion, and pop culture. The story by Bemon is heartfelt, humorous, and relatable. The art by Emilie Boudet transports the reader to a different world. Altogether, it’s a story which gives readers affirmation that being different is a superpower.

Story: Jimmy Bemon Art: Emilie Boudet
Translation: Nanette McGuinness
Story: 10 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Kabul Disco Vol. 2 How I Managed Not to Get Addicted to Opium in Afghanistan

Kabul Disco Vol. 2: How I Managed Not to Get Addicted to Opium in Afghanistan

When it comes to epic books which can change the way you read, there is only a few in the great literary canon that can do that. Those of us who voraciously read books are constantly in search of that same feeling, every time we pick one up. If you’re lucky enough, you may get that feeling a few more times, and each time it gets better. I remember the first book that I felt spoke to me. It was Holler If You Hear Me by Nathan McCall, which was an autobiography of how it is to grow up with the hardships with being a man of color.

I would go on to find that feeling a few more times, with not only nonfiction books but also fiction books. One of those books being the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini which is about a man who goes back home to war laden Iran to rescue his friend’s son. The book gave a view of that part of the world which is only known to most readers, when it came to their geopolitical issues. In Nicholas Wild’s Kabul Disco, we get a much in depth look at Afghanistan, and it’s one which is more interesting than the new media would paint it as.

It’s 2005. Nicolas Wild is a French cartoonist. He’s broke and about to be homeless. He’s a man without a plan. That is until destiny shows up in his inbox: a paid job… In Afghanistan! Kabul Disco explores the differences between the Afghan cultures around him and his own, as he and his fellow expat friends crash Asura celebrations, avoid the afterlife, and muse on the differences between Christian Easter egg hunts and Islamic penance.

In the graphic novel we meet Nicholas, a young French cartoonist, who gets a job in Kabul, Afghanistan, out of all places, which pushes him out of his comfort zone and expands his horizon. As he gets back in country, he soon finds his job has him covering the recent news rash about the nation’s war on opium or what looks to be one. The government looks to be active against the drug trade, which looks to be dangerous for anyone who has a dissenting opinion on the matter including Nicholas and his co-workers. Meanwhile, outside of work, he lives with a local family where he quickly finds out how the different sexes dined separately, the joys and struggles of being an expatriate, political protests, the inherent kindness of strangers, and the major differences between Islamic and Catholic customs. As Nicholas and his co-workers investigate deeper into the opium crisis, they soon find out the roots of how opium became so powerful and how it was affecting the election the country was having.

Overall, the graphic novel is a relevant and charming travel memoir that gives readers worldwide a view of a country most really knows about. The story by Wild is comical, touching, and illuminating. The art by Wild is unique and extraordinary. Altogether, it’s a graphic novel which will at the very least take readers away for a few hours to a place which only becomes more fascinating with Wild’s adventures.

Story: Nicholas Wild Art: Nicholas Wild
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Your First Look at Plate Tectonics: An Illustrated Memoir

BOOM! Studios has revealed a first look at Plate Tectonics: An Illustrated Memoir, an original graphic novel that depicts a modern approach to life, romance, and motherhood after divorce from the popular French cartoonist and illustrator, Margaux Motin, arriving in stores June 2019.

At age thirty-five, Margaux’s life is full of upheaval and unexpected twists and turns. She’s divorced, raising a child on her own, and trying to get back on her feet in today’s fast-paced world. Thankfully, she’s got her family, friends, and daughter to tell her exactly what they think at every turn. And when romance eventually returns it takes on the most unexpected shape . . . in that of her best friend! Could her life possibly get more complicated?!

Plate Tectonics: An Illustrated Memoir will be available for sale on June 26, 2019 at local comic book shops, and July 2, 2019 at bookstores.

Plate Tectonics cover

Review: I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation

Have you ever wondered what it was like to work in animation? To be a part of the Animation Guild? To look for a job, what the benefits are, and what are the negatives? Natalie Nourigat has all of that and more in her “how-to” graphic memoir, I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation.

Get your copy in comic shops now and in book stores January 1! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Plate Tectonics: An Illustrated Memoir is an Original Graphic Novel from Margaux Motin and BOOM! Studios in June 2019

BOOM! Studios has announced Plate Tectonics: An Illustrated Memoir, an original graphic novel meditation on being a single mother in the modern world from cartoonist Margaux Motin. Life is full of little earthquakes. When the dust settles, how do you rebuild?

Plate Tectonics, arriving in stores June 2019, follows Margaux through one of the most transformative periods of her life as she navigates her own heartbreak and subsequent hope with unabashed wit and charm.

At age thirty-five, Margaux’s life is full of upheaval and unexpected twists and turns. She’s divorced, raising a child on her own, and trying to get back on her feet in today’s fast-paced world. When romance eventually returns it takes on the most unexpected shape . . . in that of her best friend! Could things possibly get more complicated?!

Review: The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Tell Your Story, Change Your Life

Ever thought about creating a graphic memoir? Creator Tom Hart‘s new book The Art of the Graphic Memoir has more than 30 exercises and examples to take you through the process in how to exactly do that.

If you’ve been thinking about becoming a comic creator yourself, this is one you want to check out.

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

 

St. Martin’s Griffin provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Honor Girl

When it comes to infatuation it’s a feeling that brings both misery and joy in the same breath. It may be a one-way street and you may never be able to express the way you feel about the person. On the other end, the mere sight or mention of the person, may give you butterflies, which is enough to make your day. This is what makes asking someone out such a treacherous battleground to enter. Your feelings may get hurt.

All of that makes adolescence so trying for so many teenagers. That “awkward teenage phase” may last far past into adulthood. We usually have crushes as long as we draw breath. There’s nothing like the first one. Those are the ones we will always remember. In Maggie Thrash’s memoir Honor Girl, she talks about her first crush, an older woman.

We meet Maggie, as she has to spend her summer at Camp Bellflower for the summer, deep in the Appalachia.  There she meets other girls and one very familiar face form afar catches her eye, Erin, someone who is a few years older. One day, an unencumbered encounter between the two, leaves Maggie in knots over her. As the rest of camp goes, she gets closer to her friends and finds who she really is. By book’s end, not all is conquered but not all is lost.

Overall, it’s an engaging, funny, and true to life story which speaks to young women coming of age. The story as told by Thrash is entertaining and heartfelt. The art by Thrash is beautiful. It’s a graphic memoir that speaks to legions of LGBTQ children. It reminds them and lets them know that they’re not alone.

Story: Maggie Thrash Art: Maggie Thrash
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

Belonging is the fascinating graphic memoir by Nora Krug and published by Scribner. It examine’s Krug’s examination of her family’s history and that of Germany during World War II. Reckoning with history and home, it’s a story that reverberates to today.

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

Scribner provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

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