Home > Graphic Novels, review > ‘Vietnamerica’: a graphic novel review

‘Vietnamerica’: a graphic novel review

Vietnamerica by writer/artist GB Tran is a loosely collected set of stories of Tran’s family. It’s also Tran’s first major work publication. Tran’s parents came to the United States in 1975 as refuges right before the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. The narrative focuses on Tran’s parents and his grandparents. There a lot of references to the historical atmosphere of Vietnam (even before American military engagement), so it pays to have some knowledge of the subject (there’s a link at the bottom of the review if you’re interested). With that, GB Tran’s Vietnamerica.

Writing:

Nearly everything about the narrative of Vietnamerica steeped into raw emotions. The progression of the narrative is non-linear, and while I’m not the biggest fan of this style of narration it lends a lot here. It feels more like a collective memory of Tran’s family than a simple family story. Most of the stories of the family are jumbled and have little pattern. But by the end of the work the reader is given a fairly strong understanding of the major figures in Tran’s family, as well as some of the family’s friends.

A lot of the emotional value comes from the intimacy the work gives you. This isn’t something written objectively. Tran will occasionally show himself in the narrative at different ages )the reader also gets a sense of his own development). Because of the closeness of Tran’s subject matter and the style he addresses it causes this sense of intimacy. The last few pages have enormous weight, as do several others that wrap certain stories of Tran’s family. Overall, this is a very well written memoir.

Art:

Not only is the writing strong, but so is the art. It’s obvious by skimming only a few pages that Tran is a talented artist. His designs for his family figures are well done and consistent. The sense of landscape is done greatly, showing off the differences in tone at different points in the narrative. Beyond this there are two things that Tran does that sets him aside from many comic artists. First, he has a strong understanding of the comic medium and uses this knowledge to break many traditional means of conveying the narrative. He uses multiple different styles at different points in the narrative and they all fit in well, giving a good sense of time and design scheme. Second, Tran uses colors ingeniously. There isn’t one set style of colors he uses, but rather multiple types at different points. Again, this is used at different stages at the narrative. Different generations of family members will have different schemes than others. But so will different stages of their life. From the traumatic to the moments of happiness. It’s very well controlled. The art enhances Tran’s narrative, helping elevate the work’s greatness.

Final Opinion:

This is a masterpiece. Both the writing and art are incredibly strong. Both work well together, creating a stylish and emotional narrative. I can easily say this is the best thing that’s been reviewed so far. There isn’t that much to say about it in the end, except how great it is. It goes up there with some of the best memoir graphic novels. I recommend this to anyone wanting a good read, likes family stories, or just good graphic novels. It’s already one of my favorites and left me with a strong impact. In a word, Vietnamerica is – amazing.

Vietnamerica is owned by GB Tran. It’s published by Vilard. GB Tran serves as writer and artist.

If you want to know more about Vietnam preceding the Vietnam War check out this link.

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Categories: Graphic Novels, review
  1. Dustin
    May 27, 2011 at 5:59 am

    You should let me borrow this sometime. I like your use of images in this one

    • yeshallbeascomics
      May 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      Can do.

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