PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Books

Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim

Katie Haegele
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

Inventive graphic novel for girls explores fear of the future.


Good As Lily

Publisher: Minx
ISBN: 1401213812
Contributors: Jesse Hamm (Illustrator)
Author: Derek Kirk Kim
Price: $9.99
Length: 176
Formats: Paperback
US publication date: 2007-08
Amazon

Earlier this year, DC Comics started a new line of graphic novels called Minx in an attempt to attract young female readers. I wish they'd lose the smarmily sexualized name, but I'm still intrigued by the series -- at least one previous Minx book, a collaboration between young-adult writer Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg, called "The Plain Janes," has been interesting.

The newest title, Good as Lily, was created by two guy-type people -- award-winning graphic novelist Derek Kirk Kim and underground cartoonist Jesse Hamm -- but it features a young female protagonist, the smart and driven Korean American Grace Kwon.

The story opens on Grace's 18th birthday. She's sitting on a park bench fretting rather than celebrating. "By the time Mozart was 18, he had written two operas and a group of symphonies," she berates herself. Like many ambitious teens, she's worried that she'll never amount to anything (even though she just found out she got into Stanford).

Her friends Jeremy and Rona bring her out of this overachiever's reverie by surprising her with a party in the park. Jeremy, who's plainly in love with Grace, gives her a special T-shirt that she accidentally leaves behind. She goes back after dark to look for it, but finds instead a little girl crying, a young woman splashing around in the lake who calls out to her for help, and an elderly woman in a quilted parka who grouses at everybody.

Once these four people orient themselves, they take a closer look and notice a surprising resemblance.

"What's your name?" they ask each other. "When is your birthday?" They turn out to be not different people but different incarnations of Grace herself at age 6, 29, and 70.

And they won't leave her alone.

She tries to focus on her regular life, at the forefront of which is the school play and -- blush -- her drama teacher, the floppy-haired, fresh-out-of-college Mr. Levon.

But her pesky other selves keep getting in the way.

They may be versions of Grace, but they have their own agendas. The old Grace drinks and smokes and seems to have little in her life but TV, which worries the present-day Grace. The almost-30 Grace is having a minor freak-out about her love life. Eventually, we learn who the Lily of the title is, and why she has cast a shadow over Grace's life since she was a sad 6-year-old.

To get her life back on track, Grace must fix what's troubling the other three, which requires summoning love and compassion -- for herself, really. Her other selves -- even the littlest -- have some things to teach her, too. So the science-fiction-worthy theme proves an inventive way to look at the fears people, especially very young people, have about the future.

The paneled drawings are reminiscent of manga books aimed at girls, with attractive but realistic daily scenes occasionally punctuated by a comically overemotive facial expression. Also, Grace "has a butt," which is a nice touch. As with most male-made comics, there's a little too much attention given to the female characters' bodies, but Grace's appearance isn't Lara Croft-crazy, and neither is she confined to any stereotypical "smart-girl" shape.

Another good detail is the footnote that tells us Grace's parents' speech was "translated from Korean."

When talking with her family or Grace's friends Rona and Jeremy, who are also Korean, her mother even slips in the occasional "ai-goo (Korean for "oh man, oy gevalt, OMG"). We are always mindful of the characters' heritage because it plays a big role in their everyday lives.

This modern, imaginative story is a good choice for readers, male or female, who are looking for a book that has both brains and heart.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.