As a child of immigrants, it’s never lost on me about the sacrifice they made. My parents came from different parts of the world to only meet in the “greatest city in the world”. Storybook romances only happen in the movies, but my parents came close. For children who have had to listen to hours of stories by their parents growing up, the main lesson we were to learn was, that “our life is easier”.
My mother used to talk about how hard it was growing up poor in the Philippines. As my father would tell us how he had to work the sugar cane fields on Trinidad. While we did not grow up rich, we were far from well off. In the debut issue Ginseng Roots #1, Craig Thompson connects his childhood to the geopolitics of America-China relations which start right in his backyard.
We find a younger version of our author and his brother, Phil, waking before dawn, as their summer camp, this particular year, was not with their friends but on a Ginseng garden, where he and his brother will toil for the rest of the day, harvesting roots. As we find out that this particular farm in Marathon, Wisconsin, was the largest producer of American ginseng in the world in 1980. As we soon find our narrator and his brother discovering comic books this particular summer but having the naiveté of children, that they reveled in the fact they would get paid for what they did, no matter the weather. By issue’s end, Thompson would give us a history of the root and its supply chain while endearing it to the summer he worked at this ginseng garden.
Overall, Ginseng Roots #1 is a vast and inherently heartfelt love letter to “working-class guilt” and the survivor’s remorse we often feel after rising above our station. The story by Thompson is simply, beautiful. The art by Thompson is striking. Altogether, Thompson proves with this book, how masterful a storyteller he is and how some trials we go through, make us who we are.
Story: Craig Thompson Art: Craig Thompson
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Purchase: Uncivilized Books