Graphic novel review: Henry Igwala

The graphic novel that I chose to read was American born Chinese by Guen Lueng Lang. This was a unique novel as it had 3 different storylines, which were random and unrelated to each other until the end. 

The first storyline involved a kung fu fighting monkey king who seeks out to prove to his doubters that he is the best. He goes through many trials and tribulations, and later becomes too prideful in himself which causes him to be entrapped in rocks as a punishment. Only after he showed humility and realized he was no more than a monkey was he able to free himself.

The second storyline is about Jin Wang, a Chinese American boy. He was the only Chinese student in his school, which made it hard to fit in. He soon becomes friends with Wei-chein who just immigrated from Taiwan. Jin often ridiculed Wei-Chein for not speaking english, as Jin was trying to fit in with his white classmates. Jin finally asks out his long time crush Amelia, but is soon asked by her white friend to leave her alone. This causes Jin to resent his asian heritage even more and a mysterious woman asks him who he wants to be, and next thing you know, he wakes up to find himself a white boy named Danny.

The third storyline is about Danny, who had an annoying cousin who embodied the typical asian stereotypes named Chin-Kee. Danny is embarrassed of Chin-Kee’s antics and lack of American cultural norms. They soon get into an argument that turns into a fight that reveals that Chin-Kee was actually the monkey king who was trying to help Jin realize that he is perfect the just the way he is and he doesn’t need to conform to anybody.

Iconography

The Iconography of the story was traditionalistic with the comic boxes and structure. There were important aspects that helped identify the real issues and themes throughout the story, and there was a lot of symbolism. For example, Chin-Kee represented everything Jin hated about himself. These were the stereotypes that asian’s have pointy eyes and speaks broken english, saying things like ‘Herro’. All in all, Iconography was very prevalent in this graphic novel.

Chin-Kee from American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

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