The Good Asian's detective Edison Hark continues to hunt for the Hui Long killer, and for that he is giving everyone - his partner and us - a history lesson on the origins of San Francisco's iconic Chinatown neighborhood in next week's The Good Asian #4 (opens in new tab).
Writer Pornsak Pichetshote and artists Alexandre Tefenkgi and Lee Loughridge are using history and the trappings of the crime genre to tell a story that is both ageless and mired in the specific struggles of Chinese Americans in the early 20th Century.
"The Good Asian is a genre we've been calling Chinatown noir - a 1936 detective story in the vein of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, featuring a self-loathing Asian-American detective and the first generation of Americans to grow up under an immigration ban - the Chinese," the writer tells Newsarama. "The idea was to take a genre I can't get enough of - noir - and use it to feature Asian-American history and some perspectives I've never seen covered in entertainment before.
"It was a story I just really wanted to exist and honestly didn't know if there'd be an audience for, so the whole team has been blown away by the amazing response it's garnered - from the industry praise to the sell-outs to the fantastic reviews. But issue 4 is the one I've been desperate to be released, because we simultaneously kick everything into high gear, while start talking about some stuff I've been dying to delve into. I'm both anxious and excited to hear what people think."
Take a look at this preview of The Good Asian #4:
"The title 'The Good Asian' is an allusion not just to the model minority myth Asians deal with, but also brings up the idea of what constitutes a 'good Asian?'" Pichetshote told Newsarama earlier this year. "To what degree, should you show loyalty to the place you're living in and its laws? To what degree, should you show loyalty to your people or your culture or your heritage? That conflict between the place you're living in and the culture you come from resonates deeply to me as an Asian-American and I hope it does with other children of immigrants."
San Francisco's Chinatown has grown from being a historic enclave to attaining an almost a mythical status thanks to the works of crime writers like Dashiel Hammett and films such as Roman Polanski's Chinatown (opens in new tab). With The Good Asian, Pichetshote aims to remove that filter of exoticism and provide an honest, inside look at the community.
"[In most books and films], Chinatown is this exotic place full of danger and intrigue.
But what history has taught us is that we exotify things to justify our own exploitation of them," said Pichetshote. "So, I liked the idea of flipping that lens. Of doing a noir story about the people that have been exotified, exploited, and demeaned in these stories. A people I obviously as an Asian-American feel really connected to."
Dave Johnson has drawn the cover for The Good Asian #4, with a variant cover by Awanqi. Check them out here:
The Good Asian #4 (of 10) goes on sale on August 4. This first arc will be collected in a volume titled The Good Asian Volume 1 (opens in new tab), scheduled for release on September 22.
The Good Asian is available both in print and on digital platforms simultaneously. Check out Newsarama's recommendations for the best digital comics readers.