I will start out first and foremost by saying that I adored American Born Chinese. It emphasizes one of the things that I feel graphic novels does sooo well: dual story lines. Although everything comes together and is related in the end, I love that the pictures and breaks aide in helping the reader follow each story closely. It just makes the closure in the ending all the more meaningful and intense when I can clearly see every single story. ABC really does an amazing job of this and gets the reader to truly understand what it feels like when you are hiding from who you are for so long. I really got to experience what it must be like for kids who are in Jin's situation.
I feel that the form that Gene Yang chose for his story was the perfect type of format. The correlation of words and pictures was done so smoothly and really carried me through everything. I felt like I was experiencing these things first hand because I could see everything that was occurring. This goes along with one of the main reasons I love graphic novels: we get to see exactly how the writer pictured what was happening when he wrote it. Every position a person was in, what they look like, the color of the clothes they are wearing. We get to see all of that. That's what makes a graphic novel so impressive.
Based on the earlier posts I have to agree with the distinction that this is NOT a child's comic. Comics may have super heroes and pictures but there is a huge distinction between comics and graphic novels. As an avid fan of graphic novels, I would have to describe them as a novel accented with pictures. They usually have adult themes and ideas that children would not necessarily pick up on. The structure is much more intricate than a regular comic because of the dual story lines I have discussed and because of the way the author often connects ideas and themes. An adult comic? Maybe. But I am positive that it is a novel just like we read in our literary classes but it happens to be illustrated to help us with description.
Some of the things that I loved were the use of the "<" to show when Chinese was being spoken, that is not as easy in a writing form without pictures. In addition, (and a little deeper) I loved the idea of Jin trying to change himself into Danny and being punished with his "cousin". This was the smoothest and most effective way to show the difficulty of accepting who you are and the lengths that some kids want to go to, to be different from who they are. I was also pleased with the little "truths" of the story. So many times I found myself saying out loud "that's so true" or "that totally happens". There were also lines like "rake the breast" that I found to be reminiscent of many comedies that I have seen.
Finally, I was pleased with the use of the stereotypes. I say this because I felt that they were used to poke fun at people who believe them or think that Chin-kee is what all Asian people look like and talk like. I believe it was good to call out and emphasize these things to make a point of how ridiculous they are and counter that with only a few true instance of racism in the story. Having wei-chen's girlfriend called a chink, and then use it as a subtle part of the story makes you see how these instances are under talked about and addressed.
And one last fun comment: i loved every thing with the monkey! i thought it gave the book that mystical and playful taste that kept it extremely inventive. His attitude and all the gods and goddesses shows the immense creative effort that went into the work and I was very impressed.
For my online comic I wanted everyone to take a look at the Heroes website. They have an interactive graphic novel page going. Each graphic novel episode picks up where the show left off so you can go deeper into the world of Heroes. I think the art work is pretty cool too. Enjoy!
P.S. I love when Wei-Chen tries to subtly find out if Amelia noticed Jin's soapy armpit! Hehe.