In the September-October 2013 issue of Sojourners magazine, senior associate editor Julie Polter interviewed award-winning comic book author and artist Gene Luen Yang about his new two-volume graphic novel, Boxers & Saints.
Set during China’s Boxer Rebellion of 1900, Yang’s comics illustrate the complexities of faith and fanaticism through the stories of two young people caught in the violent uprising against Westerners—foreign officials, merchants, and missionaries—as well as Chinese Christian converts. Boxers tells the story of Bao, a boy who becomes a Boxer leader (among the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists) after witnessing ongoing abuse by Westerners; Saints follows Four-Girl, an unwanted daughter who converts to Catholicism, takes the name Vibiana, and must flee the Boxers.
Yang, a Chinese American residing in Oakland, Calif., dedicates Saints to the San Jose Chinese Catholic community. Boxers & Saints releases in September from First Second Books.
Unpublished excerpts of Sojourners’ interview with Yang can be found below, along with illustrations from Boxers & Saints.
Sojourners: The characters in Boxers & Saints are driven by varied combinations of ideology (patriotism, cultural imperialism) and mysticism/faith. The flaws and virtues of different beliefs sometimes seem to mirror each other.