Writer Pornsak Pichetshote and artist Alexandre Tefenkgi shine a spotlight on Asian American crime noir in The Good Asian #1. The story follows a Chinese American police detective named Edison Hark who travels from Hawaii to San Francisco in search of a missing woman named Ivy Chen. But when Edison arrives in the Golden Gates of San Fran, finding Ivy Chen will be the least of his worries. The Good Asian #1 is an informative and timely tale about immigration, racism, and murder wrapped into the politics of America.
The Good Asian #1 is a lot of things. It’s a murder mystery. It’s a history lesson. But more importantly, it’s based on a real historical event, The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese people from entering the United States between 1882 and 1943. Pichetshote manages to take that narrative and write a compelling tale that gives readers an insightful look at the discriminatory nature that Edison Hark deals with in 1930s San Francisco — not just through hate speech or violence, but from the internal struggle of what racism can do to a person as well. Through Edison Hark, we get a chance to see what that looks like.
Panel for panel, Tefenkgi captures the true essence of the 1930s in his illustrations. You can feel the pain, emotion and anger in the characters. His character design for Edison Hark reminded me of Humphrey Bogart, but Hark’s keen eye for detail felt reminiscent of Columbo. There’s great usage of shadow and lights as well. The transitions are sharp and the pacing made everything feel genuine.
The Good Asian #1 not only starts conversations, but is a memorable and impactful comic. It’s great to see stories that show the progress we’ve made over time and the bridges we still need to cross. Pichetshote and Tefenkgi’s vision rings loud and clear. It’ll be interesting to see how far they push the envelope with future issues.
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