When Derek Kirk Kim (The Eternal Smile) published his debut graphic novel back in 2003, it made an immediate stir. The story about a group of young people navigating adulthood and personal relationships is told with such sympathy and perception that the book was immediately hailed as an important new work.
Seven years later, it’s clear that Same Difference has won a place among the great literature of the last decade. It stands not only with Fun Home, Persepolis, and American Born Chinese as a lasting graphic novel, but with much of the best fiction of this young century. Derek’s distinctive voice as an author, coupled with his clear, crisp, expressive art has made this story a classic. And this classic is now back in print, in a deluxe edition from First Second.
:01 (First Second) seem to have a habit of producing gorgeous looking graphic novels, and this one with its clear fish covered dust-jacket is definitely no exception. It’s not just the production that is top-notch though, as ever, the contents is pretty sweet as well.
Despite the impressive comments on the blurb putting it up there with classics like, Perspolis etc., I knew nothing about, when I picked it up, (although I had heard of Derek Kirk Kim’s The Eternal Smile.) So I had a pretty open mind with few pre-conceptions going in to it.
Which is good, because it’s not entirely the novel I was expecting it to be. I think I was expecting a more focused look at the relationship between Simon and Nancy, but it’s much more about moving forward with your life and yet feeling like you’re staying still, facing regrets and hopes at the same time. The story itself feels like a snapshot of time we meet the characters, follow them for a bit, and then leave them again, than one with a beginning, middle and end.
I liked the characters in this one, they feel very real and honest, and if I was still a twenty-something, like people I could know, and Derek Kirk Kim does a wonderful job of showing their friendship and interactions. And the artwork is perfectly matched with the writing.
In the end, I would have preferred a little ‘more’ to the book. I believe there were some ‘& other stories’ when the book was first published, I quite often like ‘snapshot’ stories, but in this case, I think they would have added that little bit extra that would have meant me giving the book close to full marks, but it is still an impressive book that hits the right emotions.
I know there are wider read graphic novel peeps out there, that have read this one and know more about it than I did. If you’ve read it, I’d love to know what you thought about it in the comments!
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