Hien’s autobio comic today is about hair, growing up and celebrating what was, is, and will be. It’s a sweet, sad, and uplifting comic wrapped in beautiful, powerful Hien art and, gosh, as someone who started to go grey at eleven (and is now balding at 38), I’m so appreciative of having it on the site.
As ever, reach out and drop Hien a comment or two. I know he’d appreciate it!
This past weekend was Rose City Comic Con, here in Portland! While we weren’t tabling this year but we took a walk around and it was so so lovely to get to meet some of you and say hi! I hope if you attended you had a lovely time!
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IMAGE: Close-up of Hien Pham's balding head in profile from the top to his nose, his black hair getting thicker the further down it grows on the back of his head.
Narration: I like to think of my balding as my hair migrating to a better place. I don't blame them. They've been through a lot. Growing up, hair was a tool people used to exert control over my body.
IMAGE: Silhouette of scissors hacking through hair
TEXT: At school, boys with hair longer than acceptable were forced to cut it in the bathrooms as teachers guarded the door.
IMAGE: Hien's face in provile, from nose to his shoulders.
TEXT: You either stay in line or have a piece of yourself taken away.
IMAGE: Hien's hands dab into a jar of beard oil and he spreads it across his hands.
TEXT: Now that the hair on my head has fled to my chin, I make sure to take good care of it.
IMAGE: Lots of jars and bottles for beard maintenance on Hien's counter, along with a brush and comb.
TEXT: My beard feels light and fluffy when I oil it. The beard butter stays fresh and fruity all day. I use the balm to sculpt and frame my face. And wax on my mustache if I feel particularly mischievous.
IMAGE: The bottom of Hien's face as he rubs the oil into his beard.
IMAGE: Hien continues rubbing the oil into his beard with care.
TEXT: But, I think, the most important things aren't the tools I have. Rather, it's the act of care itself.
IMAGE: Hien's hand picks up the round beard brush.
TEXT: Every time I brush my beard, I'm wrestling back a form of self-expression that was denied to my younger self. Every time I brush my beard, I tell him that...
IMAGE: A younger, beardless version of Hien with a full head of hair appears in the mirror reflection, next to present-day Hien who is holding his beard brush.
CURRENT HIEN (to younger version): You matter.
CURRENT HIEN: On your darkest days, you still wake up to a beard you get to grow. It's thin, and it doesn't show up on the photos all that well... But it's yours.
IMAGE: Current Hien passes the beard brush to Younger Hien.
CURRENT HIEN: You find so many ways to care for it, and through caring for it, you care for yourself , too. No one has the power to tell you that your body is unacceptable. Not anymore.
IMAGE: Current Hien tosses more and more hair supplies to Younger Hien, who tries to catch them all.
CURRENT HIEN: You matter.
IMAGE: Younger Hien's arms are full of tools and he looks naive and bewildered.
IMAGE: Current Hien grasps Younger Hien's shoulder.
CURRENT HIEN: The way they look at you won't matter.
IMAGE: Current Hien combs his beard, washes his hands, and leaves the bathroom.
TEXT: On cool days, my beard catches the wind. It pulls on my chin a little and anchors me in a body that keeps going.
IMAGE: Hien looks out into a brilliant sunset.
TEXT: And as it keeps going, I do, too.
TEXT: By Hien Pham - WavingComics.com
Transcribed by Erika Moen, 9/25/2023