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Robin Ha Books In Order

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Publication Order of Memoirs

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Robin Ha is a comic and graphic book author that was born in Seoul Korea but moved to the US as a fourteen-year-old. She had always been a lover of comics ever since she was a child but this was heightened when she went to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). As a student at RISD studying illustration, she was introduced to European and American comics and some of these would influence her later work. Some of the biggest influences were the work s of Mike Mignola and David Mazzucchelli in the “Sandman” comics and series and French works such as “Kerascoet” and “Mobius.” Once he graduated with a BFA in Illustration from RISD, she moved to New York and started working as an illustrator for several fashion publications. Her work has been published in several collections of short stories that include heavy “Metal Magazine,” “Secret Identities,” “Marvel Comics,” and “The Strumpet.” She published her first graphic novel “Almost American Girl” in 2020. The novel is a memoir of her immigrant experience coming to the US as a fourteen-year-old girl. She has also published “Cook Korean,” a Korean recipe book in addition to blogging on “Banchan in 2 Pages,” where she features a ton of Korean recipe comics. The thirty-eight-year-old author currently lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

Robin’s love affair with comics began while she was living with her mother in South Korea. During this time she had only read Japanese and Korean comics and found that the Japanese variety was very popular among kids in the US. As a foreigner and particularly shy girl, she could not blend in with the other children and comics were about the only thing she had in common with the kids she met at the comic book store. She was excited to find that those kids were reading and enjoying the same comics she was. Robin Ha drew her very first comics as a fourteen-year-old student in Alabama. She remembers the comic book class where she drew “Fantasia,” a comic that was a rip-off of the Japanese and Korean comics she loved reading during those early years. It was the first time she had ever written something longer than ten pages and she managed to sell at the comic book store that had a mini-comics section. Some of the biggest influences for her were the Japanese and Korean comics of the 70s, 80s, and 90s such “X, Tokyo Babylon,” “Lineage,” “The Rose of Versaille,” “Full House,” and “Land of Silver Rain.”

Robin Ha’s started working on her debut novel “Almost American Girl” in 2013. Midway through, she took a break from writing and started writing “Cook Korean” her graphic recipe book. It would take her about five years to complete writing the manuscript for her debut which was published in 2020. She wrote the novel because she wanted to tell the story of the most difficult year in her life when she moved with her single mother from Seoul Korea to Alabama in the US. Her life changed overnight and she intended to write as a way to try to comprehend the happenings of that year. She also wanted to chronicle her journey to becoming a Korean American, an identity she now embraces and loves. Robin started working on the novel while Obama was president and immigrant stories written in memoir format were getting a lot of encouragement and attention. She had no idea that a few years later, her stories would go mainstream. Ha has said that she hopes her book will show that all people including immigrants who face so many challenges are human beings despite what others might say.

As for her bestselling cookbook, Robin Ha never set out to become a bestselling recipe book author. Growing up in Korea, she loved drawing cartoons and reading while her mother dealt with all matters to do with the kitchen. Ha thought cooking was not her thing as food was something she believed was very complicated. However, several years after graduating from RISD, She moved to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and suddenly she no longer had access to Korean food. The fiery red, burbling stews that are a smorgasbord of ingredients and side dishes were nowhere to be found in the neighborhood. Desperate for Korean food, she started calling up her mother asking for some easy recipes she could make at home and very soon was a Korean home cook. “Cook Korean” was published in 2016 and was a collection of 64 recipes in a comic format that was targeted to home cooks. Over the years, she channeled her passion for Korean food into her passion as a graphic artist. Her friends were always asking her to teach them how to make her delicious recipes and she finally gave in. In 2014, she started a weekly comic titled “Banchan in Two Pages,” where she gave recipes and taught people how to make simple dishes.

Robin Ha’s “Almost American Girl” is the story of Robin who for years has been living with her single mother in Seoul, South Korea. Being the child of a single mother was not easy but since they only had each other, they had become fiercely protective of each other. When her mother visits friends in Alabama, she loves it so much that she decides to relocate to the US. When her mother says that she is getting married, Robin’s life changes overnight and she is devastated. She starts attending a new school and given that she does not understand English keeping up with school work is a struggle. She misses her friends back home in Seoul and does not have her comics to soothe her. Her new home is not a place she likes as she is not comfortable with the new stepfamily. She is furious with her mother who was the one person closest to her that she believes betrayed her. But she enrolls at the local comic drawing class and things could never have been better. It is at the class that she gets the idea for a story about a non-English speaking Korean born immigrant who was brought from Seoul to Alabama. The graphic novel memoir tells the story of her extreme isolation and culture shock, even as she discovers that she is an excellent writer of comics.

“Cook Korean!” by Robin Ha is a bright comic book style Korean food recipe book. It comes with background information about Robin including her journey to becoming a home cook that began when she was an exchange student in Italy. It also tells of how she came up with the idea for the recipe book, the recipes, and the role of food in Korean culture. The cookbook stands out for the playful drawings and the graphic packaging of the recipes makes Korean food seem less intimidating and more accessible. Even though the novel concept can make one assume these are Korean inspired recipes, they are more than that. While there are chapters on Korean fusion and many of the recipes are for traditional Korean cuisine, some of these are simple recipes your grandmother could make.

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