In a new graphic memoir, actor/author/activist George Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II.
Experience the forces that shaped an American icon — and America itself — in “They Called Us Enemy” (Top Shelf Productions), a gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.
Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in “Star Trek,” he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the West Coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.
“They Called Us Enemy” is Takei’s first-hand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.
Takei, Eisinger, Scott and Becker will be at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday and Saturday. Click here for details.
With an acting career spanning six decades, George Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed TV series “Star Trek,” in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the starship Enterprise. But Takei’s story goes where few stories have gone before. From a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in Japanese American internment camps during World War II, to becoming one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights, and marriage equality, Takei remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture. Mashable.com named Takei the #1 most-influential person on Facebook, with 10.4 million likes and 2.8 million followers on Twitter.
Takei has been a passionate advocate for social justice, outspoken supporter of human right issues and a community activist. He has served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign “Coming Out Project,” and was Cultural Affairs Chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League. He is also chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He was appointed to the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission by former President Bill Clinton and the government of Japan awarded Takei the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his contribution to U.S.-Japanese relations. The decoration was conferred by Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
Justin Eisinger is editorial director, graphic novels & collections for IDW Publishing, where he has spent more than 12 years immersed in graphic storytelling. Following a fateful encounter with “March” author and civil rights pioneer Congressman John Lewis, Eisinger turned his experience adapting television episodes and film for properties such as “My Little Pony,” “Transformers,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” towards bringing engaging non-fiction stories to readers. Born in Akron, Ohio, Eisinger lives in San Diego with his wife and two dogs, and in his spare time publishes North America’s only inline skating magazine.
Since publishing his debut comic book in 2010, Steven Scott has worked regularly in comics, most notably as a publicist. His writing has appeared in publications by Archie Comics, Arcana Studios, and Heavy Metal Magazine. As a blogger/columnist he has written for the pop culture sites Forces of Geek, Great Scott Comics, and PopMatters.
Harmony Becker is an artist and illustrator. She is the creator of the comics “Himawari Share,” “Love Potion,” and “Anemone and Catharus.” She is a member of a multicultural family and has spent time living in South Korea and Japan. Her work often deals with the theme of the language barrier and how it shapes people and their relationships. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio.
“‘They Called Us Enemy’ is truly beautiful — moving, thoughtful, important, engaging, and stunningly rendered. I am so excited to see this book’s impact on the world.” — Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and National Book Award-winning author of “Brown Girl Dreaming”
“George Takei’s story reveals the important lessons of the WWII Japanese American Incarceration that still need to be learned today. ‘They Called Us Enemy’ is a compelling must-read for all ages.” — Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director, Fred T. Korematsu Institute
“Moving and layered… Takei challenges Americans to look to how past humanitarian injustices speak to current political debates. Giving a personal view into difficult history, [‘They Called Us Enemy’] is a testament to hope and tenacity in the face of adversity.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A compelling blend of nostalgia and outrage… this approachable, well-wrought graphic memoir is important reading, particularly in today’s political climate. Pair with John Lewis’ acclaimed ‘March’ series for a thought-provoking, critical look at the history of racism in American policies and culture.” — Booklist (starred review)
“This evocative memoir shares stories of the nation’s past, draws heartbreaking parallels to the present, and serves as a cautionary tale for the future. For all readers old enough to understand the importance of our collective history.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“Emotionally staggering… ‘They Called Us Enemy’ also inspires readers to engage through democracy to insist that we treat fellow human beings with fairness and dignity.” — Amazon Best Books of the Month
“Riveting… Takei has evolved into an increasingly powerful voice for oppressed communities, and ‘They Called Us Enemy’ finds him at peak moral clarity — an unflinching force in these divisive times.” — The Washington Post
“A tale of triumph over adversity.” — BBC America