'Angry Little Asian Girl: Moments with My Mother' offers new collection of comics
"Angry Little Asian Girl: Moments with My Mother" is the latest installment in the popular Angry Little Girl series and author Lela Lee's first original book release in years.
I met Lela Lee through the San Diego Asian Film Festival in 2000 or 2001 after we briefly shared some time in a Comic-Con booth. I loved how her "Angry Little Asian Girl" creation was a challenge to stereotypes about both Asians and women. Being female and of Asian descent (Chinese on my mother's side) I happily bought and proudly wore her T-shirt featuring her grade school Korean girl character flipping the double bird.
I also bought a set of post cards that I frugally send out to only my favorite people featuring Angry Little Asian Girl's choice comments such as "Love is just friendship on fire" and "Life is no picnic."
But I was thrilled to discover that Lee had a new collection of comics called "Angry Little Asian Girl: Moments with My Mother" featuring the series’ titular character, a girl named Kim and her mother.
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As you might expect, Lee's mom is not thrilled by the comic.
"She's often asked me to get a job," Lee noted. "I'm an adult. So I've decided I'm going to just do what I'm passionate about."
And she has been passionate about her Angry Little Asian Girl since 1994 creating both comics and a web series that still exists on YouTube.
She described her character as, "obviously angry, but angry in a way where she is put upon, and expected to serve everyone and obey everyone but herself. So those are the things that really, I think made me angry, but I couldn't articulate it. So it's been this long process of drawing comics to sort of unearth what it is and what the reasons were that made me angry and made her angry because she's sort of like the voice I wish I had. She, I guess, has an ability to discern what is actually really happening and distill it into sharp, short words and to speak her mind, which are things that I actually do not possess, although I have gotten better at it because of this character."
Each comic is full of biting humor and clever insights that are both intensely personal and entirely universal. It's the kind of humor that makes you both laugh and think.
For this latest collection of comics she focuses on her mother and being the daughter of an Asian mom.
"What I'm working out is sort of the generational conflict and also ... the needs that are different from an immigrant, first generation to the children — the second generation," Lee said. "Immigrant parents are so focused on survival, food, clothing, shelter, education. They want their kids to do better than them. And then often times when the immigrant kids get educated, they have new ideas, which I think really frighten the immigrant parents' obedience hierarchy. It's so funny how I see immigrant parents sort of like cherry-picking what things they will adopt into the family. And it's the irony of immigrant families and parents that have left a country that oppressed them. They obviously had to leave because something wasn't working there. And then when they come to America, they focus on economic progress. But a lot of times social progress is not prioritized. So I found that, as a child of immigrants, I was straddling two worlds. One was really old and the other one was new. And I had to do a lot of code switching when I went from home to school."
In addition to being an acclaimed comic artist, Lee is also known as an actress in such series as "Tremors" and "Scrubs."