This year for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to suggest a few graphic novels created by Asian American cartoonists, authors, and illustrators. Last year, Nicole Wielga suggested some fantastic graphic novels written and/or illustrated by Asian American authors and artists, check it out!
This list is by no means exhaustive, and I haven’t included many genre or YA books, so please share your favorite comics or graphic novels penned by AAPI authors and artists on our Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorites to kick off the conversation…
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
A student recommended this book to me about 15 years ago, and it reintroduced me to the joy and power of storytelling in graphic novels. American Born Chinese challenges and satirizes Asian stereotypes, as three unique characters converge. Yang, a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, also wrote Dragon Hoops, Boxers and Saints, and Animal Crackers, and many more! Check out Gene Luen Yang’s website.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
I know that I’ve already recommended Good Talk, a funny, honest, and scathing graphic novel by Mira Jacob, but you cannot miss this. This book was inspired by conversations Jacob had with her son about racism, and delves into the art of the conversation that reveals so much about relationships, beliefs, and love. I also love her novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. More of Mira Jacob’s work and insight can be found on her website.
In recent days, Jacob has been drawing awareness to the healthcare and humanity crisis in India, and not only suggesting ways for us regular people to help but also holding accountable companies who have profited off Indian culture. Check out her Instagram for more information: https://www.instagram.com/goodtalkthanks/.
Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
Adrian Tomine is amazingly prolific. You may have seen his New Yorker covers, Brooklyn Book Festival posters, Optic Nerve comics, and many books and collections. So if I just had to choose one, it was Shortcomings. It is funny, insightful, and quiet, and filled with the precise beautiful art that Tomine is known for. Check out Adrian Tomine’s website to look at the scope of his artwork.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
While this may technically be Young Adult, it is such an authentic story of adolescence, that is should strike notes of nostalgia for many readers. The coming-of-age story follows two friends as their annual summer vacation is a turning point in their lives, as they grapple with family, mental health, sexuality, and tragedy. This One Summer is illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by her cousin, Mariko Tamaki. More of Jillian Tamaki’s work can be found on https://www.jilliantamaki.com/ and check out Mariko Tamaki’s Twitter to check out her latest work and collaborations: https://twitter.com/marikotamaki.
Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale by Belle Yang
In this memoir, Belle Yang finds solace and healing through her father’s stories of old China. The same stories that she dismissed as a child now give her strength in the wake of an abusive relationship.
Yang also has several children’s books, filled with her beautiful art: http://belleyang.com/childrens-books/.