For our September meeting we read They Called Us Enemy, the 2019 graphic novel by George Takei, along with excerpts from Miné Tokubo’s 1946 graphic narrative Citizen 13660. The U-C Zine Library hosted the meet up. While we found Tokubo’s classic work compelling, Takei’s graphic novel didn’t quite make the grade.
Takei’s They Called Us Enemy, is largely derived from his 2014 TED talk at TEDxKyoto, “Why I love a country that once betrayed me.” While his personal story is compelling, the transition from personal narrative to sequential storytelling isn’t completely successful. The book relies heavily on square-box narration, making it feel as though the artists didn’t have confidence in their readers to keep up with the story without it. While the images are beautifully rendered – the representations of the Takei children are particularly enjoyable – the book doesn’t achieve a synthesis between the textual and the visual storytelling. While the book is perfectly in sync with Takei’s brand, when juxtaposed with the stark power of Citizen 13660, it feels tepid by comparison.
The next Comics Studies Colloquium will be October 12 at 2:00 at Riggs Brewing. We’ll be reading author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.