Prime Baby

Like many six-year-olds before him, Thaddeus suspects his baby sister might be an alien. Unlike most six-year-olds however, Thaddeus might be right.

After the critical success of American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang set himself the extra challenge of creating a second book in the form of a newspaper comic strip. Originally published in the New York Times Magazine, this strip carries some of the charm of American Born Chinese but replaces much of the pathos with a smattering of humorous science-fiction fantasy.

Like most older siblings, six-year-old Thaddeus can’t quite believe it when his parents announce that he’s going to have a little sister. He initially believes her to be an alien, and his fantasy appears to be confirmed when her repetitive baby talk is repeated in prime numbers and she starts coughing up alien spacecraft. Things quickly descend into farce as Thaddeus decides that this is clearly the precursor to an alien invasion, and the only way to stop it would be for him to be installed as ruler of the world. Now all he needs is to persuade everyone, starting with his parents, that he’s right.

The story is fairly basic, though Yang weaves a few good jokes around it, stretching it out through the three- and four-panel strips. His art style appears simple but is technically perfect, and well-suited to this kind of a comic. The book limits itself to a single strip per page, so it’s a very quick read.

In all it’s a fun little read, though you may have got more out of it in its original form, stretched out over weeks and months. As it stands in book form, it feels light on substance but is high on fun.

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