Saturday, May 31, 2014

I pledge allegience to the wife...

Just a little cartoon at the end of Fleet Week. The war goes on every day, and every day we lose. Oh why do we keep trying?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cho, the other, other white meat.

If animals could talk, eh? Amazingly I dodged both bullets. As far as I know, anyway. I'd probably try it, but when the plate was on the table it was only dog stomach. I don't eat the stomach of any animal, thank you...the thought of a stomach in my stomach is just too ironic for me. In any case, another animal's digestive enzymes and H. pylori can't be good for you. I have eaten other things I regretted, but I don't care about dog on the menu as most Westerners, especially if I can choose something else . Everyone has their soft spot, and though I love chicken and quail, I'd probably cry if I saw the little sparrows cooked up on the plate.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The English Version of the DEP article.

- Please tell me something interesting about you and your wife, such as how did you guys meet or something from Jenny that you found charming…

It's a miracle that we met at all--as a travel consultant, she planned my first trip to Vietnam and we didn't even get to meet. I was trying to find information so I could give a present to my guide, and my email finally escalated to Jenny. After that, we connected on facebook and skype, and then met when she came to New York for vacation. I'm normally shy around women, especially with gorgeous women like Jenny. But something inside me kept saying "take this as far as you can go or you will regret it for the rest of your life." So I did, even though it meant living and working in Vietnam for a while.

- I read that Jenny said you must have been Vietnamese in your previous life. Is that true? Do you feel the same?

I do! I come from New York, where everyone is big, loud, and angry, and that's not me at all. I'm much more laid back, and pretty much the average size and shape for a Vietnamese guy. Vietnam is one of few places I could call home--Jenny's family adopted me right away, and I made a big effort to learn Vietnamese. The food was no problem, I absolutely love it! Much more than pizza and hamburgers. On the other hand, Jenny is a natural New Yorker. She can even stand the cold weather much more than me!

- Please tell me when the idea for the book originated?

The Vietnamese Wife, Western Husband Club is a real thing. The wives belong to one or several online chatrooms or forums all over the world. Sometimes they all meet in person, with the wives and husbands sitting at separate tables. The wives have a great time, while the husbands just stare at each other. Each couple has an amazing story--I knew one that met in Paris--but when we're together, it feels creepy, like a conspiracy for Western men to steal Vietnamese women. Meanwhile, the wives have so much in common that they became the only comfortable subject for us husbands to discuss.

- Did you know the fact that Vietnamese women have a reputation as being the perfect wife before marrying Jenny?

I've heard the rumor that is circulating around in the West: Vietnamese wives cook like the Chinese and pamper like the Japanese. That kind of makes me sick. Not for the women's personality, but for what the man thinks he can get away with. A woman should be treated like a queen, and Jenny demands it! Honestly, I don't see that Vietnamese women fit any stereotype. Some fit the profile, and some are the opposite, like Jenny. She is hot-tempered and demands attention, and that's provided a lot of challenge that makes our relationship so--I guess "exciting" is the word.

- And then, do you think you draw the perfect marriage into you comic book?

Yes, in the sense that in a perfect marriage, both partners are actively changing and learning from each other. I called the first book "A Romantic Cartoon" not because there is a whole lot of kissing going on (who wants to see that?) but because the romance is in the conflict. Love is a tug-a-war--you fight for a while, then you learn to tie the ends of the rope together and let it spin.

- Or are those things too exaggerated?

They have to be exaggerated to be funny! Even in real life, we have to choose to laugh rather than cry. A cartoon has to make the audience perfectly clear that life is a joke, the kind that needs to be enjoyed before it is over.

- Do you think the Vietnamese parts of your marriage makes it so special?

Every marriage is special! I'd say yes, because Vietnamese is a larger theme in our lives. This includes the burden of cooking Bun Bo Hue for an entire day, and the adventurous run through chinatown to get the strange ingredients to make it. But if my wife was from Russia, or Senegal, or any other place, we'd be doing the same thing but making different dishes. And if she were American, I guess we'd be ordering a lot of pizza and would find adventure in other ways. Getting the opportunity to live and work in Vietnam has changed my life and perspective, and I am grateful for that.

- Your book is named “The Vietnamese wife, Western husband club”. I think maybe this topic is too niched, or do you think that there are many couples like you guys in the world, and they are also facing the same problems, having the same stories that come frome the differences of language and culture…

It is too niched--that is, if I were concerned about selling as many books as possible. But I make the comics because it is a great creative outlet and the perfect form of expression. Still, friends and family who have never been to Vietnam really enjoy the book, and they learn enough about Vietnamese culture to want to go.

- How does Jenny think about the book, about the way you draw her, and the way you tell stories?

She loves it! She would prefer that I draw her more beautiful--when we were married, I made an animated cartoon about how we met and fell in love, and she kept sending me back to the drawing board until I had a flattering image of her. Well, she is beautiful, so why not? I had to convince her that the book is a cartoon, and comedy and simplicity demanded that I use a different style. As for the stories, they are often exaggerated, and the characters are not necessarily Jenny and I.

- Do you have any plan for more books about your marriage?

Yes, I just can't stop! I have a second book coming out called "All Proceeds Go To Baby." The title is a joke--the characters are selling the book to save up enough to have children. This book will be very different from the last one, possibly the only one if its kind. Both English and Vietnamese are used, so that someone speaking either language would understand. Also, the cartoons are bigger, and tell the whole story of how me met, our life in Vietnam and in New York City. I'm hoping to publish this book in Vietnam, where most of my fans live. Like the first one, I may also publish it on Kindle so it will be available to anyone.

We're DEP!

We are now featured in DEP magazine!

Hope you can speak Vietnamese!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Story page 2

This leads up to how we met. Here's my mother and me on a guided tour of Hue. Destiny is a double edged sword--to meet Jenny, I must first get very sick.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Story page 1

So, Jenny and I decided that we are tired of telling our story again and again in different ways. Unfortunately, I already finished the cartoon version. Rather than squeeze it into book 2, I figured I'd just post them as "lost cartoons." I'm putting them in the "Our Story" tab in the blog.

*update: I think we'll be putting this in book 2 after all.