Readers who love coming-of-age tales will welcome these two graphic memoirs, both of which poignantly explore the ways childhood experiences reverberate through our lives. In these pages, there is fun and frolicking, confusion and sorrow—the bittersweet nature of life, finely drawn.
In They Called Us Enemy, pop culture icon and social activist George Takei harks back to his childhood, several years of which were spent in internment camps during World War II. He was 4 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and 120,000 Japanese Americans were subsequently removed from their homes and sent to prison camps along the West Coast.
Takei and co-writers Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott capture the terror, fear and frustration of those years, and Harmony Becker’s art masterfully conveys the harsh violence of warplanes and bombs, as well as the sweet sadness of kids playing within barbed-wire fences.
They Called Us Enemy is an important read for anyone who wants to learn the full truth of our country’s history of institutionalized racism and gain greater context for our present. A tribute to Takei’s parents, this meditation on citizenship and community will educate, challenge and inspire.
Set in 1980s Massachusetts, King of King Court is also a trip down a bumpy memory lane, one that winds through Travis Dandro’s life from age 6 to 16 and contemplates the ways in which love, anger and loneliness collide. Dandro’s art is expressive, his storylines often impressionistic.
Kinetic dream sequences feel whimsical yet enlightening, dark shadows reveal even as they conceal, and scenes of kids making mischief are unquestionably cute. Thanks to the adults who loomed large in young Dandro’s world, such contrasts (and confusion) were not uncommon, especially when it came to his biological dad, Dave. He’s macho, mustachioed, addicted to drugs and still appealing to Dandro’s mom.
Readers will sympathize when teen Dandro feels beleaguered and angry at adults’ ill-advised choices, and they’ll appreciate grown-up Dandro’s empathy. Dedicated to his mother, this moving book is a happy ending to their story—and perhaps a beginning, too.