Diversity in Comics: A First Look at Sun Dragon’s Song #1

Sun Dragon's Song #1 Cover

Sun Dragon's Song #1 CoverSun Dragon’s Song Vol. 1, No. 1

Joyce Chng (Writer) and Kim Miranda (Artist)
Rosarium Publishing
September 21, 2016
Disclaimer: This review is based on an advanced copy from the publisher.

Sun Dragon’s Song is an upcoming children’s fantasy comic about a physically disabled boy, Ho Yi, who dreams of becoming a dragon rider and defending his homeland just like his parents. Created by two Asian women and published by the multiculturally focused Rosarium Publishing, Sun Dragon’s Song is looking to be a good option for kids and teens looking for an #OwnVoices comic in an Asian setting.

The story introduces Ho Yi as a young boy who doesn’t have it easy but is destined for greater things. He’s unable to walk far without the aid of a Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.07.26 AMcrutch, and his parents don’t believe he’ll ever be strong enough to ride a dragon. He also has a class bully, who doesn’t seem to have any good reason for picking on him other than, well, that’s what bullies do. Despite all this, Ho Yi demonstrates the special kind of pluck that every proper protagonist needs.

It’s hard to tell whether a story is good or not within just the first issue, but Sun Dragon’s Song presents a lot of good ideas that can easily be expanded upon. There’s the question of how the dragons came to be tamed and who Ho Yi’s parents are fighting against. The story hints at what may be a fierce female antagonist. And there’s plenty of space to explore Ho Yi’s disability — which appears to be caused by an illness that leaves marks on his legs — and his relationship with his parents and classmates. There’s also the fact that Ho Yi clearly has some special connection to the dragons and whatever makes them tick.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.07.55 AMAlso, the dragons eat crystals. I don’t have any reason for bringing that up other than I think that’s really cool.

Miranda’s bright and straightforward art is fitting for this story and its intended audience, and it goes a long way in creating a sense of cultural specificity for the reader. I love the design of the dragon rider’s armor, as well as the scenes that focus on food.

With all that said, the comic would benefit from having an editor or a beta reader. There are issues with grammar — missing punctuation, unclear phrasings, and a few strange uses of quotation marks — as well as typesetting. Both are easy fixes with another pair of eyes looking over it. It would also be nice to have any non-English words defined. For example, the term bai shi was used, and I am still unclear what exactly it means.

All in all, there’s a lot of potential for this comic. I look forward to seeing where Sun Dragon’s Song takes us.

Gretchen Smail

Gretchen Smail

Gretchen lives and works in SF as a freelancer. If not at work, is probably off eating ramen, petting dogs, or attempting yoga. Tweets too much at @ubeempress.