Tag Archives: Derek Kirk Kim

Tune | Book 2: Still Life by Derek Kirk Kim and Les McClaine

Tune 2Okay, so both Book 1 and Book 2 of this intergalactically stupendous series start out almost the same (Book 2 has an extra, well-placed, close-up “Gyaaaaah!” thrown in), but don’t be misled into thinking you’ve already read it, done that, check!

“What’s next for Andy Go?” the new chapter begins … well, he’s woken up in a faraway frontier with a splitting headache (a “dimensional jump” will do that to you), although it just happens to look exactly like the bedroom (complete with hidden porn stash under his mattress), living room, and kitchen where he’s spent most of his young life. The one exception is that his new habitat is missing the fourth wall … and on the other side of the invisible barrier are unrecognizable, definitely not human, faces who watch his every move. Welcome to the C.I.S. Zoo! “Yoiks,” indeed!

Enclosed as it might be, Andy’s new life is pretty good … at first. His zookeeping duo (Dad is belligerent, but 503(4)-0717.04.23.B101 – “Dash” for short – is rather sweet) keep him well fed with all his favorite foods, he has 500 home-y channels to keep him couch-surfing, and he’s got plenty of time to draw. When the mood hits him, he’s not above entertaining the masses, bonding through the barrier with the young ‘uns. He’s hoping his keepers will let him make a quick phone call to his beloved Yumi  (too late! he forgot to sign up for interdimensional service before his earthly departure), as he gleefully anticipates his first weekend off when he’ll finally be able to tell his one true love just how very requited their undying love is.

But then surreal reality sinks in: instead of going for the basic package, Andy Go apparently inked the “premium” contract. Somehow, he agreed to live in his Praxian cage for life. That smooth-talking voice beyond the vent (who is that?) confirms the worst. Uh-oh. Now what’s our lovesick young man to do? How is he ever going to hook up with the love of his short life? Dash reluctantly promises to help, but only if he can teach her about art in exchange. How do you teach an alien about something so … well … alien?

Disguised as giggles and guffaws, Andy Go gives us plenty of fodder to consider – all about life, love, and that elusive pursuit of happiness. So he’s a bit of a slacker with plenty of talent who gets waylaid by easy money with benefits he doesn’t even need (child support for the young and the childless?). What can he do? Frontal lobe maturity happens late for the XY-chromosomed, and our young hero is no exception.

The graphic triple crown-winning – EisnerHarvey, and Ignatz – Derek Kirk Kim has picked up a collaborator since Tune‘s 2012 debut. While Kim retains the text copyright, fellow comic creator Les McClaine gets the art credit; the illustrative hand-off seems seamless between volumes. Best of all, if partnering means “To Be Continued …” happens sooner than later, that’s definitely a happy (temporary) ending for us readers. Tune 3 soon, oh please!

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2013

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Tune | Book 1: Vanishing Point by Derek Kirk Kim

Tune.Vanishing PointAt 18, Andy Go “had life all figured out,” but then so much for best-laid plans: “None of it came true, of course. Not a single damn thing.” One morning he wakes fully clothed on his bed, in his room, in his (parents’) house … and as he’s groggily doing his business in the bathroom, he finally realizes “Something was horribly wrong.”

Rewind five months back: at the end of his third year of arts college, Andy announces to his buddies he’s quitting school: “I can draw! I can paint! I don’t see why I have go through another year of watercolor blends and contrapastos just get a piece of paper that says I can.” Two months later, he’s still couch-surfing and living with his parents who finally pass him the “Help Wanted” section. Luck isn’t on his side at first – Andy’s thinking “Assistant Editor,” but the disinterested employer’s offering mailroom or janitor.

Then he walks into an office and meets 481(4)-0427.05.03.D86 and 503(4)-0717.04.23.B101, whose employment contract offers a hefty salary, weekends off, three weeks of vacation, generous pension, health and dental benefits, and they’ll even throw in child support. But the job isn’t exactly local, and Andy’s just found out that the love of his life might not be unrequited after all. To sign or not to sign … Andy’s about to take the ride of his life!

Derek Kirk Kim who won the graphic industry triple crown – EisnerHarvey, and Ignatz – with his debut collection, Same Difference and Other Stories, proves to be an epic jokester in this boisterous adventure, complete with goofy boy bonding, generational culture clash (“ai-goo” indeed!), coming-of-age first romance (queue soundtrack, please!), and intergalactic parallel universe science fiction. Kim’s also having quite the laugh, channeling his fellow buddies (did I mention goofy boy bonding? – page 123 is priceless!) including pop culture maven Jeff Yang and graphic artist Gene Luen Yang with whom Kim co-authored The Eternal Smile.

The “Book 1” on the cover, together with the “To Be Continued” on the final page, promises more escapades ahead. I’m definitely (can’t resist …!) staying Tune-d.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2012

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The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

eternal-smileFrom two of the most successful names in contemporary graphic novels – Gene Luen Yang, whose multi-award-winning American Born Chinese was the first-ever graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award, and Derek Kirk Kim, the equally multi-award-winning author of groundbreaking Same Difference and Other Stories – comes an entertaining joint venture that’s actually three stories in one. Being who they are, expect the unexpected, of course!

In “Duncan’s Kingdom,” a young knight fights all sorts of evil characters and is just about to get the gorgeous Princess when reality, uh, interrupts his good fortune. Hey .. isn’t that Gordon Yamamoto (from Yang’s 2004 Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks) hanging out with the common masses on page 35? 

The second story, “Gran’pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile” is all about greed … and using religion to be even greedier and therefore wealthier! Ultra-evangelical Colorado Springs come to mind? But the Church of the Eternal Smile is not at all what it seems.

And in the third and final “Urgent Request,” overlooked office drone Janet Oh – hoping to meet her Nigerian prince who’s suspiciously named Henry (?!!) – actually answers that scam mail about a family fortune needing to be dispersed pronto … does she know something we don’t?

Review: “In Celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: New & Notable Books,” The Bloomsbury Review, May/June 2009

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2009

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Graphic Novel/Manga/Manwha, Chinese American, Korean American, Nonethnic-specific

Same Difference and Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim

Same DifferenceAfter debuting his comics regularly via website (available in color online!) and then self-publishing this first collection which sold out ever so quickly, Derek Kirk Kim has definitely become a leading name in graphic novels ever since. Same Difference found a permanent home and Kim ended up with the industry triple crown for his first collection: Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz!  Not surprsing, given that his writing is cheeky, funny, surprising, sometimes downright raunchy, and ever-so-often poignantly bittersweet.

The eponymous story which takes up about 2/3 of the book is a lingering look at 20-something-ish youth, complete with Cherry Garcia Ben and Jerry’s to sweeten the alienation. The shorter stories that follow are fresh and irreverent – with even an embarrassing reference to aMagazine: Inside Asian America, one of my longest writing gigs ever (theater and books) – complete with aliens, Cupid, cursing students, and a broom-wielding Buddha. Obviously, you gotta read to believe.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2004

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Graphic Novel/Manga/Manwha, Korean American