George Takei’s Upcoming Graphic Novel Looks at His Childhood in an Internment Camp

When you think of gay icon George Takei‘s past, you probably think of his time as Sulu on Star TrekBut the upcoming George Takei graphic novel goes back further than that. They Called Us Enemy is about the time Takei spent as a child in a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans. (Internment camps? In America? That certainly couldn’t happen now.)

In 1942, Takei’s family, along with 120,000 other Japanese-Americans, were put into internment camps for the duration of World War II. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese people in America despite that 62% of those interned were American citizens. (Not that it was okay to intern the other 38% either.)

Though German- and Italian-Americans were also sent to internment camps, it was on a much smaller scale. Only approximately 11,000 people with German ancestry and 1,881 Italian-Americans were interned — a tenth and a hundreth, respectively, of the number of interned Japanese-Americans.

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The cover of ‘They Called Us Enemy,’ the George Takei graphic novel, courtesy of Top Shelf Productions

They Called Us Enemy, the George Takei graphic novel, focuses on Takei’s life as a Japanese-American during World War II. His family was first forced to live in converted horse stables in Santa Anita Park, a racetrack in Arcadia, California, before being sent to the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arizona and finally to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California.

Takei wrote the book with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott. Harmony Becker did the art. It will be published by Top Shelf Productions, which also published the widely-acclaimed graphic novel trilogy March, by civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell.

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The ‘They Called Us Enemy’ creators. From left to right, Justin Eisinger, George Takei, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker, photos courtesy of Top Shelf Productions

If you’re one of the lucky people going to the San Diego Comic-Con, Eisinger and Scott will be hosting a panel discussing the book and showing some of Becker’s artwork for the book. The They Called Us Enemy panel will be Friday at 1 p.m. in Room 23ABC.

They Called Us Enemy, the George Takei graphic novel, comes out Summer 2019 from Top Shelf Productions.