Thank you for reading Folding Kimono. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read any of my comics, but especially this one. It’s been an interesting and odd comic to work on, and I’m so overwhelmed and inspired by how many people have engaged with it, and have felt connected to the story I’m telling. Thanks especially to Chromacon, who decided it was worth 1st place in this year’s Chroma Art Awards (Joining 2013’s 1st place winner, Sunshine).
Writing autobiographical material is a weird experience for me. I’m accustomed to writing about myself and drawing myself, but it’s uncommon to combine the two. It feels strange to take parts of me that are raw and personal, and edit them for timing, content and flow the same way I do with my fictional stories. In a way I’m fictionalising myself, turning into an avatar through which to tell stories. I don’t dislike it, but it’s an odd experience.
Writing about my heritage is a lot more hurty than I was expecting. It’s difficult to explain to anyone who doesn’t have mixed heritage, but there’s often a lot of pressure to behave like just one of your cultures. In my case, I’m pressured to behave and act white most of the time, and I can get weird pushback sometimes when I want to talk about the Japanese parts of my heritage (which I’d prefer not to go into detail here).
I often feel like I’m overstepping my bounds, because I have been raised in a predominantly white culture, surrounded by white people, white media and white entertainment. It makes me feel inauthentic, even when discussing my own identity. A part of me wonders why I pursue my Japanese/mixed heritage at all, it’d be very easy to quietly leave it to one side of myself, and just bring it out for fancy dress parties when I’m in need of a good costume.
It’s decidedly harder to examine what it actually means to come from a mixed heritage background and how to proceed in the world after accepting and identifying with these parts of myself. It’s taken a lot of contemplation to gather myself to the place I am now, and I feel like this is only the very start of my journey. I want to bring all parts of me along equally, and one I’m committed to exploring exactly what this means in more depth. For me, this will mean more comics as one avenue of this exploration.
I have been so moved by hearing other people of mixed heritage (especially mixed Asian heritage) talk about how my comic made them feel. I had people telling me they’d never seen their experiences recorded so accurately, that the piece resonated very deeply within them. I made at least a couple of people cry. Tumblr reacted in overwhelming numbers to show they appreciate and care about this piece.
I am so glad that I have finished this comic, and so grateful to know it resonates with people. I am feeling more connected to my heritage and to the larger community than I ever have before in my life. I’m hoping that you will continue to listen to my voice as I talk about heritage and culture, and what they mean to me. I will continue to write with the best of my ability. In comics, in essays and anywhere else that will have me. And I’m always happy to hear from you, if you want to talk to me about your experiences.
Thank you so much everyone.