Let me tell you, if you’ve never had the delight of witnessing your minority community being persistently misrepresented in the media and throughout popular culture, it’s a genuine treat! However, it might be difficult to fight the need to see more of a flawed vehicle when poor representation is all you have. The opening lines on writer Pornsak Pichetshote’s text page of The Good Asian, as if to drive home the message, are “Charlie Chan, Mr. Wong, Mr. Moto. By every standards, a terrible portrayal, with no real prospects for resurrection. The stories weren’t just bigoted, but also somewhat dull, as Pichetshote puts it. The seed of something different was still present in that paradigm, though. As described by Pichetshote,”He recognised what they could be,” he said.
The stakes are those. A former editor of Vertigo and current TV writer who is Thai-American and a fan of crime fiction, Pichetshote. To give you an idea of his gold standard, he makes much of Stray Bullets. A Chinese-American police detective from Hawaii named Edison Hark is introduced in The Good Asian. The central theme of the narrative is the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was introduced in 1882, expanded in 1924, and finally repealed in 1943. The narrative goes that Chinese immigrants were the first to grow up in our country under such constraints. Hark is from Hawaii, where things were a little bit different, but it would take a while before Chinese people would be permitted to join the police. He has a badge when he arrives in San Francisco, but more ties to his lily-white past.He comes to San Francisco with a badge, but unlike any other member of the Asian community, he has greater ties to his lily-white adopted family.
It has a good deal of bite as hooks go. Hark is partially based on Honolulu Police Department detective Chang Aparna, who in turn served as the inspiration for Charlie Chan. Like Aparna, Hark dedicates himself to the improvement of his neighbourhood by combating crime there, albeit from a distance. You may probably infer from the title alone that The Good Asian criticises the false notion that minorities in America are “model minorities. After all, the notion that underrepresented populations may improve by joining the police force and serving as a role model for good behaviour has come under fire recently. Therefore, Hark’s decision to join the police in the 1930s is at once honourable, foolish, compromised, and dripping with historical irony. This makes for an absolutely smashing noir concept, in my opinion.
There is a lot of research available. It appears that there are little sources for what Chinatown in San Francisco looked like at the time. For that and pretty much everything else connected, Pichetshote had to look hard. There weren’t always a lot of formal or even informal records, similar to many immigrant communities. This comic book seems like the kind that might benefit from an index, so maybe there will be one in the collected version. I value the realism because I tend to be a stickler for such details. Additionally, it identifies the story as a sort of passion endeavour.Images With high launches from Hollywood or Show business creatives tend to be suspect to me because they frequently resemble fancy pitches. Detective Hark is an excellent candidate for such an adaptation, so I’m not saying this couldn’t be a pitch, but it’s still evident that this was done out of passion and comes from a place with both personal and historical relevance. These bones have a lot of meat on them.
I’m not familiar with the artist, a Frenchman by the name of Alexandre Tefenkgi who has a keen eye for composition. The book is at its best when the artist interrupts the panel flow for impact, such as with diagonal panel borders to emphasise activity or by placing a number of small panels near together to simulate flashes of memory. Everything appears to be as it should be; the frails are curvaceous and the mooks are slouchy.
It can be challenging to avoid the staginess that is inherent in all beginnings given how much of the first issue is devoted to building up the premise and setting. As the story progresses, he becomes looser.
If I had to pick one thing, it would be the colour. In actuality, I believe the colours somewhat detracted from the book. I’m not at fault here, colorist. Lee Loughridge is a trustworthy veteran with nearly three decades of experience, including time spent at Vertigo under Pichetshote. Simply put, the issue is brown—the familiar Vertigo brown. If these guys weren’t seasoned professionals with true Vertigo experience, I wouldn’t have brought it up. Since the predominant colours are dark brown and maroon, that seems to be the most likely explanation. However, the main issue with subtle dark tones is that contrast is crucial for directing the reader’s attention forward in a colour comic book.The eye struggles without at least some interaction between light and dark. I understand that colouring dark, high-contrast situations is difficult. It stands as a cautious error brought on by experience that can be easily corrected.
There is a lot of potential in this example of the creators’ labour, so hopefully it will be. When Loughridge and Tefenkgi are given the opportunity to move around, the book is at its best. There is a page toward the end of the book that stands out as striking, with hot pink accents interspersed with glimpses of stunning ladies. Due to the fact that this is the first issue, it is simple to notice the places where things are awkward and don’t quite fit together, but the series’ strengths are also obvious.
Since I’m not a big mystery fan, my litmus test for the genre is rather straightforward: am I engaged enough to keep reading and do I care to wait to see whodunit? Even though Pichetshote spends a lot of time setting up the plot, the actual murder doesn’t occur until practically the very end, but it’s a very spectacular one. Someone is murdering people with an axe while up to no good. Although the locals don’t trust the (white) cops, they might be a little more forthcoming with someone who looks like them. Perhaps the Tongs are involved. The bodies are beginning to gather. It truly is a pickle. Let’s wait and see.