Before his Printz winning graphic novel American Born Chinese, Gene Yuen Lang self-published and created mini-comics. Animal Crackers is a collection of this first works, including the stories Gordon Yamamoto and The King of Geeks and Loyola Chin and The San Peligran Order. Gordon is featured in both of these stories, a bully by default who encounters aliens through a very unique method.
Loyola travels to an alternate universe in an equally unique method. Their two world collide when Loyola must make a very adult decision in an otherwise sci-fi end of the world scenario.
It is interesting to see Yang’s progression as an artist and storyteller after reading this collection. Loyola incorporates not only Yang’s faith but presents Loyola as a heroine during an end-of-days crisis. In the afterword by Yang, he describes his earlier illustrations as simplistic. The collection is a quick read considering the simplistic style, but still rich in bold black and white. The narrative can be jumpy at times, but if you let yourself get caught up in it, Animal Crackers proves to be an interesting ride.
-Marie Penny, currently reading Trickster: Native American Tales, a graphic collection
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