Star Trek icon and social activist George Takei is working on a graphic novel about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, publisher IDW announced Friday. Publication is scheduled for 2018.
The story will narrate the internment through Takei's own family’s firsthand experience of being interned. Takei spent about three years, from age 5 to 8, in an internment camp. The internment came about when, following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese Americans, including those that were American citizens, out of misplaced and exaggerated fears that they might be spies/terrorists for the Japanese Empire. Some 120,000 innocent Americans were interned in camps without any charges filed against them or any due process, often losing everything they owned in the process. The 75th anniversary of the first internments passed on March 30. Widely considered one of the most shameful episodes in American history, the U.S. government formally apologized and offered compensation to survivors in 1988.
Takei, who was born in Los Angeles in 1937, is best known for playing Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek TV and movie series but has also had an extensive career in other TV shows and movies. In 2005, the actor, then 68, announced he was gay and has since has become a noted LGBT and human rights activist (and a beloved cultural icon). He has written four books, including a memoir.
“I have spoken publicly on numerous occasions during my life on the unjust internment of Japanese Americans in my ongoing mission of spreading awareness of this disgraceful chapter of American history,” Takei said in a statement. “I do this, and will continue to do so, in the hope that my personal experience can serve as a cautionary reminder of our past leaders’ mistakes, and that as a society, we can learn from those transgressions and not repeat them. When the opportunity to tell my story in the form of a graphic novel presented itself, I recognized the value in making it easily accessible for our youth to discover and digest the material, bringing attention to an important and relevant issue, while preserving it for generations to come. We live in uncertain times, and if stories such as mine can inspire us to do better and encourage positive change, I want to share it with as many people as possible, no matter who they are, or where they come from.”
Added IDW: “Acting as narrator, Takei guides readers through memories of his family’s confinement within the internment camps, the aftermath of starting over with nothing after their release, his rise to stardom as helmsman of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek, and how these life-changing events led him down his chosen path of activism and championing human rights.”