Believing In Democracy
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its sixty-fourth choice, They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Steven Scott, Justin Eisinger and Harmony Beckers, published by IDW and reviewed by Tripwire’s contributing editor Tim Cundle…
They Called Us Enemy
Writer: George Takei, Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott
Artist: Harmony Becker
Top Shelf Productions/IDW Publishing
Today’s choice is a book which just got nominated for an Eisner award. Faith can take many forms, but is primarily the means to protect oneself against impossible hardship and foster survival. For George Takei’s father, and later his son, that faith manifested itself as overwhelming conviction in democracy and human rights. Even after his family was interned in a camp in the aftermath of Japan attacking Pearl Harbour, Takei’s father’s belief in his country and the innate decency of humanity provided his son with a definitive role model.
They Called Us Enemy is the story of one of the darkest periods of America’s recent history, when its government robbed nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans of their basic rights and locked them away in remote prison camps. Drawn from Takei’s personal experience of the internment program, They Called Us Enemy is both a heart-breaking and uplifting tale of the political and personal struggle for humanity’s soul.
A more than germane analogy to today’s events, Takei’s narrative (co-scripted with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott) is a bleak and redemptive treatise of his struggle through those years. Rather than let his wartime experience consume him, Takei used it as a means to improve his life, and to help others who have had similar experiences. Beautifully illustrated in stark monochrome by Harmony Becker, They Called Us Enemy is a life-affirming story of a scandalously overlooked chapter of American history, which shows how faith can provide transcendence.
History as we know has a tendency to repeat itself. Takei is all too aware of this and uses his story as a cautionary tale regarding how democracy can be undermined by populist minorities who rely on spreading lies and misinformation. The story is also about belief in democracy, and its ability to survive and renew. Takei’s faith continues to remain unscathed, even in these testing times when such conviction is not shared by many. An accomplished and necessary read.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far