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Review: They Called Us Enemy

They Called Us Enemy

When it comes to how the world treats people of color, every country has a long resume of sins that they’d rather hide. America, most of all has a list that it likes to downplay no matter how serious the crime.

There are the crimes done to our own citizens, starting with the country’s original peoples, the Native Americans, and their eradication through the establishment of reservations and the Trail Of Tears. What is and still is one of the worst acts by the United States was the establishment of the Japanese Internment camps. Scars of that time stay with us even more now as we repeat the sins of the past with modern-day detainment camps holding refugees. George Takei, with a supremely talented team of contributors, has put together a penetrating narrative of that time and his experiences in They Called Us Enemy.

We meet George and his brother, as they are awakened by their father to get dressed. Soldiers soon show, rattling Executive Order 9066, sending thousands of Japanese Americans into internment camps. The heartbreak that comes across his mother’ face, becomes a memory of that day that he will never forget. Takei gives us his family history, how his parents met, and the discrimination they faced soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, similar to the harassment many Muslim Americans faced after 9/11. As after the order was executed, many Japanese American families were forced to sell many of their possessions for pennies on the dollar, as their properties were seized and bank accounts frozen leaving many of them still destitute.

Takei’s family were sent to a converted racetrack in Santa Anita, California, where the smell of manure still permeated the stalls. Eventually, his family would be moved another internment site, Camp Rowher, in Arkansas, far from everything his family knew and loved. He would get to know the other families that lived in his block of the camp, all from different backgrounds, jobs, and situations, but all were Japanese Americans. As their block needed a leader, his father stepped up, eventually finding common ground amongst the different leaders on the camp.

In January of 1943, their loyalty was challenged, as questionnaires were circulated, leaving many enraged. While some joined the Army with the 442nd Battalion, others were conscientious objectors and sent to Leavenworth. Due to his parents’ answers to the questionnaire, they were relocated to an even harsher internment camp in Tule Lake, California. Tensions between the guards and the internees increased daily.

The graphic novel explores his memories of these times and the impact upon not only himself, but the hate he witnesses, and the discovery of his identity.

Overall, the graphic novel is a sobering and relatable memoir of an American family, and the tragedy Japanese Americans faced during that time. The story by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott is heartfelt, melancholic, and true to life. The art by Harmony Becker is gorgeous. Altogether, a story you will not soon forget nor should ever.

Story: George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott
Art: Harmony Becker
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Vampirella #1

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Achilles Inc #4 (Source Point Press) – The series has been an interesting one starting at the premise of a world where superheroes profit from their powers and displace workers.

Batman #75 (DC Comics) – “City of Bane” begins!

Blade Runner 2019 #1 (Titan Comics) – The cult classic world comes to comics with original stories!

They Called Us Enemy (IDW Publishing) – George Takei recounts his time in a Japanse internment camp in this timely graphic novel.

Vampirella #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Christopher Priest takes on the classic character in this anticipated new volume!

Preview: They Called Us Enemy

They Called Us Enemy

George Takei, Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott (w) • Harmony Becker (a & c)

George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s—and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In a stunning graphic memoir, Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of over 100,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon—and America itself—in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

TPB • B&W • $19.99 • 192 pages • 6” x 8-1/2” • ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

They Called Us Enemy

Around the Tubes

They Called Us Enemy

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Portland Mercury – Comics Store Books with Pictures Has Opened Its New Location – Go support them!

ICv2 – Vertigo Archive To Continue To Carry Brand – They did say “new comics” in the announcement, so this makes sense.


IGN – Batman: Damned #3
The Beat –
They Called Us Enemy

George Takei Talks to School Librarians About his Upcoming Graphic Memoir They Called Us Enemy

A few days ago, legendary actor, activist, and author George Takei visited New York to deliver the keynote address at School Library Journal‘s 14th annual Leadership Summit.

Takei spoke to an audience of key figures from schools and libraries around the United States, a vertical for comics and graphic novels that is growing quickly. During his speech, he narrated his wrenching firsthand experience in childhood as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during World War II. Takei also explored the complex lessons of patriotism and civic engagement passed down by his father, the duty of all Americans to stand up for our ideals, and his hopes for They Called Us Enemy to both educate and inspire new generations with the lessons of the past.

The graphic novel is a memoir about Takei’s experience in the internment camps and relevant today as camps are being erected again.

Next year, we will put it in your hands, you librarians, to build the future of America, to inform the young people who will become the leaders of our future that we have a glorious history… but we should also be mindful of some of the horrible mistakes that we made. As Americans, we all have a responsibility to build a better America.

They Called Us Enemy is currently in preparation for release in Summer 2019.

George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy Will Be Released in 2019, Focusing on Immigration, Incarceration, and Family Separation

As nations around the globe confront new versions of old debates about immigration, incarceration, and family separation, actor/author/activist George Takei is preparing a beautiful and powerfully resonant graphic memoir of his own direct experience with American xenophobia.

In summer 2019, Top Shelf Productions will publish Takei’s They Called Us Enemy, created in collaboration with co-writers Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker. George Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. Readers will experience the forces that shaped an American icon — and America itself — in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?