Citizen 13660

Citizen 13660

by Mine Okubo Author

The first graphic novel

Evocative and emotionally-expressive illustrations, each paired with a caption that show life in a US internment camp where Miné Okubo was forced to live during World War 2. Okubo's story begins with war being declared, while she is pursuing an arts fellowship in Paris. She manages to get home to her family and dying mother. The US declared war on Japan in December. In February, people of Japanese descent were asked to "voluntarily evacuate" to camps. In March, that move was made mandatory. She shows the struggle of settling into the camp, which was in near-ruins, and then the adjustments and new normalcies of daily life, from dealing with communal toilets to keeping busy to growing food. Though the camp was only open for a year, residents were required to take classes on how to get along in the outside world before they were permitted to leave. Published in 1946, Citizen 13660 was the first graphic novel ever published. At the time, comic books were supermarket fare, and it took the work of a Japanese-American woman artist to elevate the art to a new level.