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Derek Kirk Kim’s Same Difference and Other Stories is among the selections for the 2014 World Book Night U.S., becoming the first graphic novel to earn the distinction. (Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges was chosen last year for the U.K. event.)
Celebrated around the globe on April 23, World Book Night was established in 2010 as a way to encourage more adults to read. Every year since the event was first observed in the United States in 2012, more than half a million books are given to people who might not typically have an opportunity to read.
First published in 2004, Kim’s award-winning debut graphic novel is the story of a group of young people attempting to navigate adulthood and personal relationships.
“It’s amazing to be the author of the first graphic novel included in this celebration of books and reading,” Kim said in a statement. “I never expected the places my book would take me; it’s wonderful that now, over a decade since it was first published, my story is still reaching new readers.”
Same Difference is in good, and varied, company on the 2014 list, alongside such books as Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, my Wednesday haul would start with Glory #30 (Image, $3.99). This series has been great, and since Kris Anka began doing covers, it’s gone to very great. Now, seeing New Yorker cartoonist Roman Muradov coming in to do a story makes it potentially even more, well, great. I’m psyched to see Glory face off against her sister, and Campbell’s depiction of both has been mesmerizing. Next I’d pick up Comeback #1 (Image, $3.50), featuring letterer Ed Brisson making his major writing debut. The cover design by Michael Walsh is impeccable, and the concept of time traveling for grieving loved ones is a fascinating concept. Next up, I’d get a Marvel double – Wolverine and the X-Men #21 (Marvel, $3.99) and Hawkeye #4 (Marvel, $2.99). This carnie issue of Wolverine and the X-Men is intriguing; it’s going out on a limb, but after what Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw have done so far, I trust them. With Hawkeye, I’m slightly hesitant to pick up an issue knowing David Aja isn’t drawing it, but Javier Pulido has the potential to be an ideal temporary substitute.
If I had $30, I’d look back on my $15 and reluctantly put Hawkeye #4 back on the shelf to free up money for Derek Kirk Kim’s Tune, Book 1: Vanishing Point (First Second, $16.99). Man oh man, do I love Kim’s work, and seeing the previews for this online makes me see a honing of the artist’s style akin to the way Bryan O’Malley did between Lost At Sea and Scott Pilgrim. Count me in.
If I could splurge, I’d take a chance on the anthology Digestate (Birdcage Bottom Books, $19.95). I’m no foodie like C.B. Cebulski, but I like food and I like anthologies so this is right up my alley; especially when the chefs include Jeffrey Brown and Liz Prince. Where’s my order?
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, returns to the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco this weekend. The show’s special guests are Groo creator Sergio Aragonés, Flood creator Eric Drooker, all three legendary Hernandez Brothers, The Cardboard Valise creator Ben Katchor, jobnik! creator Miriam Libicki, and Weathercraft creator and giant pen owner Jim Woodring, all of whom have spotlight panels over the course of the two days. In addition, other guests attending the show include Shannon Wheeler, Stan Mack, Justin Hall, Derek Kirk Kim, Jason Shiga, Thien Pham, Jamaica Dyer and many more.
In addition to the spotlight panels, the show has panels on politics and comics, censorship, queer cartoonists and a “Gigantes” meet-up with the Hernandez Bros. and Aragones. They also have workshop panels if you’re interested in making comics and a “creator connection” that allows aspiring creators to find writers or artists to work with.
The show is usually one of my favorites of the year, mainly because it’s so easy going and loaded with opportunities to discover something new and cool. Here’s a round-up of some of the folks you can see and buy cool stuff from at the show, as well as things to do inside and outside of the Concourse:
Comics | Auction prices for comics and original comics art have soared over the past few years, ever since a copy of Action Comics #1 broke the $1-million mark in 2010. Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions (admittedly, not a disinterested party) and Michael Zapcic of the comics shop Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash discuss why that happened—and why prices are likely to stay high. [Underwire]
Creators | Brian Michael Bendis looks back on his eight-year run on Marvel’s Avengers franchise. [Marvel.com]
Crowdfunding | Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, raised $1 million in just over a week on Indiegogo to help fund the restoration of Nikola Tesla‘s laboratory as a museum, surpassing the $850,000 goal. “THANK YOU SO GODDAMN MUCH,” Inman wrote on his blog. “WE ARE GOING TO BUILD A GODDAMN TESLA MUSEUM.” There are still 34 days left in the funding campaign. [The Associated Press, The Oatmeal]
Publishing | Warren Simons, executive editor of Valiant Entertainment, discusses gathering the talent for the Valiant relaunch, refining the characters for modern-day tastes, and keeping the books accessible to new readers. He also gives some hints about what to expect from Valiant’s upcoming series Shadowman. [Previews World]
Derek Kirk Kim was at the American Library Association midsummer meeting last weekend, and he went through the Artists Alley with a video camera asking the creators what they think of ALA versus comic conventions. The lineup includes Dave Roman, Raina Telegemeier, Gene Luen Yang and Cecil Castelucci, among others, and the answers are interesting; several people focused on the way that the ALA attendees (who are, obviously, mostly librarians) are very engaged in the subject matter and interested in learning about something new, while comic con attendees tend to be looking for more of the same familiar comics.
Check out the video; it’s 10 minutes well spent.
The webcomic Tune, by Derek Kirk Kim (The Eternal Smile, Same Difference and Other Stories), has been out there for a while, but now First Second is taking it under their wing and relaunching it with a new artist, Les McClaine, a new website, and new content. The comic tells the story of art school dropout Andy Go, who somehow ends up doomed to a life of incarceration in a parallel universe and has to figure a way out. It’s a classic sort of story but very nicely handled by Kim, who illustrated the first ten chapters. Although the comic is being relaunched this week, there are already quite a few chapters up from its earlier incarnation, so settle in for a good read. The comic will be updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and although the press release doesn’t say so, I’m guessing that if First Second is taking it over, they will eventually publish a print edition.
First Second sent out their latest catalog earlier this month, highlighting all the graphic novels they’ll be releasing in the fall. This is the imprint’s fifth anniversary, so congrats to Mark Siegel, Gina Gagliano and the rest of the crew for five great years of making awesome graphic novels.
Here’s a rundown of what to expect from the publisher later this year:
Americus, by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill: Tim spoke with Reed about this one last year; it’s about a teenager fighting to keep his favorite fantasy series on library shelves when it’s targeted by “Christian activists.” You can read it online here.
In the comments section of one of our posts last week, someone pointed out that comics creator Derek Kirk Kim is selling off some of his original art from The Eternal Smile, the Eisner-winning book he did with Gene Yang, in order to pay for an unexpected bandwidth fee for his website.
“I’m in a financial crunch right now, so I would really, really appreciate the support,” he wrote on his LiveJournal. “Besides everything else, I got linked on reddit last month and got hit with a fat bandwidth fee which I can’t afford.”
You can check out all the auctions here.
The Eternal Smile
by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
First Second, 176 pages, $16.95.
Ah the “twist” ending. Who can forget their first encounter with that well-used narrative device? For you perhaps it was The Twilight Zone or the films of M. Night Shyamalan. For me it was the revamped Alfred Hitchcock Presents back in the mid-80s. I stayed up late that night, expecting your usual man-accused-of-crime-he-didn’t-commit-type tale only to discover at the end that — OMG, Ned Beatty really was the killer all along! That revelation threw me into a paroxysm. Why, everything I had assumed up till then about the story was untrue! Now I had to completely re-examine my preconceived notions about genre fiction! Black was white! Up was down! Stories aren’t supposed to do that sort of thing, are they?
But of course, stories do that sort of thing all the time. Take for example, The Eternal Smile, the latest graphic novel from Gene Yan (American Born Chinese) and Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference). It’s a collection of three short stories that, in one way or another, all rely upon some sort of twist ending or surprise reveal. How much you enjoy the book, therefore, really depends upon how fresh that narrative conceit is to you.
Derek Kirk Kim’s “assistant” takes you on a tour behind the scenes of The Eternal Smile, the new First Second graphic novel he did with Gene Yang, in this video:
Comics creator Derek Kirk Kim comments on the casting choices for the The Last Airbender movie. While the setting of the cartoon the movie is based on is “wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture,” white actors have been cast in the roles of the four main characters:
Before I go any further, it behooves me to spill some information on “Avatar, the Last Airbender” for those people who have no idea what it is. 1) It’s the greatest, most ambitious animated action adventure TV series ever hatched in the U.S. A cartoon series for kids in which one epic story actually spans 3 entire seasons. A kid’s show in which the characters actually grow and change and evolve! A cartoon which actually respects a kid’s intelligence and vast imagination. Imagine that! 2) It’s wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture. Everything from to the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils!—it’s all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia. (In one episode, a region is shown where everyone is garbed in Korean hanboks—traditional Korean clothing—the design of which wasn’t even altered at all.) It would take a willful disregard of the show’s intentions and origins to think this wouldn’t extend to the race of the characters as well. You certainly don’t see any blonde people running around in “Avatar.” (I’m not saying that would have necessarily been a bad thing, I’m just stating the facts of the show and the world in which it is set.)