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Beneath the Surface - International Chinatowns

Project Introduction


Debbie and Emily

The foundational content we were in charge of is “Other Chinatowns.” Yes, that was basically the whole prompt. But this short prompt was good news for the both of us, who love extra room to be creative. We looked into interesting initiatives and aspects of Chinatowns around the world, and decided to go with the theme of architexture*. That is not a typo. We wanted to, in simple terms, write about places. Architexture very quickly turned into art-chitexture as we wove a story with both text and visual art.  In particular, to narrow our focus, we decided to use buildings as an entry point in our comic. Due to time constraints, we couldn’t give details of every building in every Chinatown (but you can easily look these things up, right?). Instead, note how buildings are presented  and the remarks made about the buildings. Rather than info-dump on the reader, the comic is tailored to make the reader think and be curious, rather than to sponge up information. 

While the comic contains didactic elements, and while the content is heavily based on research, the comic is not intended to be a strictly ‘academic’ production. Rather, think of the comic as a multi-storied building with many ‘floors’, or layers. It can be read for leisure (get ready to be whisked into a world of mystery and magic!), or it can be examined under a microscope in search for themes, puns, references, anything you want, really. (As a side note, never underestimate the power of leisure. It is how many people find what they’re passionate about in life). With the odd exception (like 50% of ‘Paris’ roofs in the comic), most of the things in the comic are not arbitrary. Characters, names, places, the dialogue, the structure, and even the colours and paneling were all calculated and designed with intent. If comic/literature analysis is what tickles your toes, go for it. We would like to tell you all of these juicy details, but 1) where’s the fun in having all the answers presented to you? And 2) it’s simply too long to tell. 

There will be links at the end of the comic to direct the reader to some interesting links about Chinatowns. No matter what your reading style is, we hope you enjoy our short comic, and who knows, maybe it will inspire you to do your own research or search for your own place in Chinatown and other underrated spaces. 

— Best, Emily and Debbie

*architexture: building narratives with(in) an urban land/scape. The term has been used by many, but sourced our definition from this document. This is also the website with the introductory quote.

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