The Eternal Smile – Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
Three stories collected in one volume, this collaboration spans knights with swords, frog cartoon shows, and internet scams–but they’re all connected by the common thread of illusion. Things aren’t always what they seem, and seeing through the illusion will change everything.
I completely loved American Born Chinese, so it seemed like a logical next step to pick up The Eternal Smile–and I’m really glad I did! It’s a totally odd assortment of stories, but after a while I started to see that they went really well together, thematically. The first story was actually a little bit Kelly Link-esque, dropping the reader in the middle of a fairly odd fantasy setting that had the appearance of depth without being particularly lengthy, pagewise. I think that’s what I liked best about it–the assumption that I would, and could, just go with the flow until the big twist at the end. The second story might actually be my favorite, though at first I wasn’t sure I’d like it at all, but I’m enough of a Disney fan and have enough good humor to appreciate a clever and kind of freaky satire. I also liked the art best in the middle story, bright and cute to offset the bizarre. The third story was a total departure, even from stardard white to off-white paper, but I really enjoyed it. The blurring of lines between reality and fantasy, the sweetness of the art style and the clever story were all fantastic. It made me want to check out Same Difference and Other Stories, too! Overall, this is the kind of graphic work that I like best–it’s more than what it seems to be. Well done, you guys, five stars.