Acceptance or Challenge?
On being Asian: East-Asian Americans and Canadians in selected North American multicultural graphic novels
Abstract: Graphic novels occupy a significant place in American and Canadian popular cultures. Contrary to popular belief, their role is not limited to entertainment for the young as they very often touch upon subject matter that is far from simple and trivial. This paper focuses on two contemporary American author-artists of East-Asian descent, Derek Kirk Kim and Gene Luen Yang, whose graphic novels Same Difference (2011) and American Born Chinese (2006) address the issues pertaining to multiculturalism and the everyday challenges and experiences of East-Asian Americans. Other works, including Adrian Tomine’s Summer Blonde, (2003), Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s Skim (2008), and Thien Pham and Gene Luen Yang’s Level Up (2011), are also examined in the context of postethnicity.
Keywords: multiculturalism, multicultural literature, postethnic literature, Asian-American literature, East-Asian Americans, East-Asian Canadians, young adult graphic novels
The graphic novel is here to stay or at least not going away anytime soon. It is a thriving medium and continues to gain prominence, as can be seen by the multitude of genres, works, and authors. Over the years, graphic novels, which are, as Spiegelman put it, comic books “that you need a bookmark for”, have inspired professionals representing various artistic forms, schools, and backgrounds (as cited in Fingeroth 2008: 4). Many have been adapted onto the big screen: Ghost World (2001), V for Vendetta (2005), and Persepolis (2007) – these are only three examples of cinematographic adaptations of graphic novels. More recently, Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle: Chapitres...
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