Otherland combines comic reportage with personal stories from immigrant interviews and arranges them into a singular narrative through life’s familiar moments. GB Tran emphasizes the dichotomy between his life as a born US citizen and the far more complicated one for those coming from another land. The graphic novel will connect 15-20 individual stories of varying lengths into a single narrative arc beginning with birth, then childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, midlife, elder years, and concluding with death. These stories cover a range of themes and experiences, including: a Nigerian immigrant’s first time in a bar for a work party and her co-workers not realizing how against cultural norms and uncomfortable it was for her; an Indian immigrant’s first attempt at ordering pizza; an Egyptian immigrant, who after rushing her daughter to the ER, copes with the enormous medical bill while also paying for care for her elderly parents in Egypt. Otherland aspires to strengthen our bonds to each other regardless of where we’re from and who we are. By sharing these stories, Tran hopes to reveal the threads of essential human experiences that bind us all.
A publishing cartoonist for over 15 years, GB Tran’s most recognized work is Vietnamerica (Random House, 2011), a 288-page comic memoir of his family’s trauma, tragedy, and triumph as war refugees. Its accolades include a Society of Illustrator’s gold medal, Eisner nomination (known as the “Oscars of comics”), and Time Magazine’s “Top Ten Graphic Memoirs of All Time” list. Tran’s other comics explore a range of issues from mental health (People Recover, SAMHSA 2013) to immigration (Steal This Country, Viking 2018) to his family’s past and how it continues shaping their future (The Believer, 2018 and Fatherhood Survival Guide, an ongoing webcomic).