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An example of Old Master Q. Immature humor, I know.

I’ve been in love with comics ever since I was young. But it was a little different for me because I didn’t grow up with superheroes outside Saturday morning cartoons and instead read Lǎo Fū Zi (translated as Old Master Q [1]) manhua — Chinese comics — strips imported from Hong Kong. Heading to the bookstore to pick up a new copy with my dad after a dim sum lunch was often the highlight of my week and I collected and cared for them like precious antiques. Even though I couldn’t read Chinese and often needed my parents to translate their speak bubbles, I still laughed my head off at the illustrations of the characters’ shenanigans and sketched after them as another way of developing my drawing skills.

I was also very adamant about saving the San Francisco Chronicle’s comics section every Sunday because they were colored and looked pretty cut-and-taped onto my bedroom wall. I still have a large Garfield strip I kept from middle school, the one about the lasagna-loving tabby cat asking for hugs which I found adorable. Probably the best gifts I ever received were the special edition Calvin and Hobbes books I got one Christmas; even though I had a difficult time grasping the philosophical language, I related to the tiny blond kid’s problems with fitting in and being misunderstood being an oddball myself.

This was the same exact Sanmao strip that I mourned over. (Zhang Leping)

At a young age, I also discovered how dark and revealing comics could be when I flipped through manhua copies of Sanmao [2] and wept many tears for the poor orphan’s experiences with losing father-figures, massacres and poverty. As I got a little older, I grew attracted to the prevalence of manga comics like One Piece [3] (still my favorite series to this day) and started to pick up on the nuances of Japanese culture, quickly becoming aware there was more to life than being American/Westernized. After reading Watchmen [4], Alan Moore’s masterpiece, I began seriously reconsidering a dream once abandoned to the back of my mind of one day publishing my own comic book.

I guess I’m saying all this because I would like more people to experience how spell-binding and just plain awesome comics can be, particularly women. It’s awkward opening up my adoration to others on campus when I know most Millsies haven’t really read or enjoyed them to the extent as I do — at least to my knowledge. I still remember being the only one talking about my favorite graphic novels at a fiction writing workshop when everyone else just mentioned titles by such authors as Jane Austen.

So I hope outside of having to read Maus [5] in high school and watching film adaptions of Marvel/DC Comics machismo superheroes, they too can experience the empowerment mere illustrated stories can bring. With this in mind, I will conjure a number of comic books/graphic novels I think everyone should look into every other week.

Here are my current recommendations:

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine

[6]

Click on the images to purchase the book on Amazon.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

[7]

Y: The Last Man series written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Pia Guerra

[8]

Click to purchase the first volume on Amazon.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

[9]

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

[10]

Hazed written by Mark Sable, illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez

[11]