And the word 'read' doesn't really do it justice. This is a comic that you experience. As trite as that may sound, I recommend you stop what you are currently doing and read this interactive retelling of Nam Le's 'The Boat'.
'The Boat' was the final piece in a collection of short stories written by author Nam Le. I read the book when it was first published and loved it. 'The Boat' was perhaps the most powerful of the short stories and artist Matt Huynh has attempted to capture its power in an visceral visual retelling. 'The Boat' is the story of Mai, a sixteen year old girl who makes the journey from Vietname to Australia after the fall of Saigon. She leaves her parents behind and makes the treacherous journey, squeezing alongside 200 other refugees into a boat designed for 15.
'The Boat' combines animations, audio and words to create something that feels truly interactive and unique. Illustrator Matt Huynh saw this project as an attempt to engage with an issue that was relevant to his own personal history.
"The Boat is the most urgent and immediate comic I've ever made - a work of a kind I've never quite seen before and a unique chance to engage an issue so entangled with my own life," he explained. "It's a work that deals not in metaphor or analogy, not exclusively fiction or history and impossible to segment artist from subject. This resulting work is proof of my life, luck, of a country's compassion for people in the most vulnerable of circumstances over 40 years ago and our urgent, unavoidable connection to today's asylum seekers and refugees."
'The Boat' was sponsored by SBS as part of its multi-platform recognition of the 40 year anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. The original writer, Nam Le, was proud to have been part of the project.
"Matt Huynh and the team at SBS have taken a short story and shifted it into another register," he said. "The result is strange and powerful; more importantly, it opens up new ground. I’m thrilled to be part of it."
I highly recommend checking it out here. I also recommend reading the book itself, a collection of dissociated short stories that reflect Australian culture from multiple perspectives. I loved the book. And I loved this comic.