10 December 2008

Good Graces

In the recent discussions about the shutdown of the Minx imprint, I saw people recommending its title Good As Lily, by Derek Kirk Kim (script, character design) and Jesse Hamm (final art). So I dug out my reading copy, read it, and enjoyed it. Not as much as The Re-Gifters, but Minx seems to have done well by comics about Korean-American teen-aged girls living in southern California--even if they were created by men, most of whom aren't Korean-American or Californian.

Good As Lily adds a touch of fantasy to the contemporary high school setting. After her birthday party with a picturesque group of bohemian friends, overachiever Grace is visited by three versions of herself: as a little girl, at age twenty-nine, and in old age. The rest of the tale is her struggle to deal with them, her parents, the school play, her crush on the drama teacher, etc., etc. At least she's already gotten into Stanford.

There's some physical comedy that doesn't work quite as well on the page as it would in a moving picture, where timing doesn't depend so much on the reader. But overall Good As Lily uses the comics medium very well. I was particularly struck by the use of borders to split the same scene into different moments.

I have major questions about the title, though. Lily, it turns out, was Grace's older sister, who died young. Grace has spent years trying to be as good as Lily. But that plot thread gets resolved a little more than halfway through the book, and the two older selves remain to be dealt with. They bring mature wisdom about seizing opportunities and advantages when you have them, guiding Grace to a happy final semester. So why wasn't Good As Lily called The Three Graces?

One interesting comment from Kim's blog: Good As Lily and other Minx titles had to fit into 144 pages. That settled production costs, but also established that the spines were never going to be as thick as all those imports from Japan.

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