Monday, October 08, 2007

Same Difference and Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim

This is probably cruel and reductive, but Derek Kirk Kim strikes me as the Robin to Adrian Tomine's Batman. Kim's work -- slice-of-life stories about young Asian-Americans in Northern California -- is very similar to Tomine's, but Kim's outlook is a bit sunnier, his drawing a bit more rounded and cartoony, and his plots have more humor and tonal variation to them. Tomine isn't exactly dark and brooding, but his stories always have a bleak underpinning to them. Kim's stories tackle similar situations and characters, but aren't quite as gloomy.

I could go too far with that comparison, because Kim's work isn't all that happy. "Same Difference," which takes up more than half of this 144-page book, is about a young cartoonist who goes back to his hometown for an odd reason and reassesses his life, and several of the shorter stories are about break-ups or other personal conflicts. I still say that, compared with Tomine, he's somewhat sunnier...but that doesn't add up to sweetness and light all the time. Also, while most of Same Difference is presumably semi-autobiographical realistic stories, there are some more imaginative works as well, such as the stories about Oliver Pikk, who is an anthropomorphic bee. (And also has dating trouble -- that's the default plot for all of these twentysomething cartoonists, as far as I can tell.)

I picked up this book because I enjoyed Good As Lily, which Kim wrote for DC's new Minx line. And I'll be looking for more of Kim's work...though I do hope that he'll continue to move away from standard poor-me autobio comics and into more interesting areas.

(Oh, and the big covershot above is what the library copy I read looked like. The little Amazon box below shows what I think is the current cover. I have no idea why it was changed, but I doubt I would have picked up a book with that new cover.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read some of that material way back when Kim was putting it up on his website. And I think Oliver Pikk is an anthropomorphic olive on a toothpick.

Post a Comment