Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal

Aminder Dhaliwal has created a comic detailing the day-to-day of the minority cyclops community within the two-eye majority in Cyclopedia Exotica. This graphic novel is so relatable and heart-breaking. These comics were originally published on the artist’s Instagram page. Her drawing style is cartoonish, yet realistic, reminding me of some of my favorite comics.

The characters in this book come from the cyclops community and are pictured doing daily life. Some are using dating apps, others have families, some have jobs, and others are trying to figure out their identity. The cyclops are an immigrant community with physical differences from the two-eyes majority. Microaggressions occur in doctor’s offices, public transportation, museums, and every other place they visit. Despite the hardships they face, they are all just trying to live normal lives. Coexisting is hard. Being ‘othered’ is hard. Trying to find yourself is hard.

This comic is witty and full of social and cultural critiques. Even though this graphic novel is fiction, it handles real issues faced by marginalized groups today. It’s full of thought-provoking ideas. Characters face xenophia, highlighting disability, sexuality, race, and gender issues that can easily transfer to real life. Dhaliwal outlines cyclops passing as two-eyes, fetishization of cylops, interracial relationships between cyclops and two-eyes, and representation/misrepresentation of cyclops in the media. Cyclops are used as a metaphor for these issues, but this content is relatable to anyone and everyone. They are dealing with their own unique struggles, but are trying to live their daily lives the best they can while dealing with intense hate. Additionally this graphic novel has a large cast of characters, but the artist makes them all individuals and gives them all their own intriguing storylines. Cyclopedia Exotica is thoroughly engaging and full of social commentary.

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