{comic} Good as Grace

good as lily coverGood as Lily by Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference, Tune, The Eternal Smile)

& artist Jesse Hamm (extensive resume)

Minx 2007

A strange mishap on her eighteenth birthday causes Grace Kwon to be confronted with herself at three different periods in her life–ages six, twenty-nine, and seventy–while she and her friends struggle to save a crumbling school play.–publisher’s comments

A typical story of the anxiety of major changes: 18th birthday aka “adulthood,” college acceptance letters, maturing relationships: takes on an atypical twist or three. I’m not referring to the presence of past and future selves; somehow that does not seem rare. I think it is that intriguing struggle between each of the Graces to control their fate.

Grace Kwon expresses significant anxieties in her different ages and situations. Kim’s resolution is not as simple as ‘there is one solution to save them all,’ nor are the Graces consciously working toward the same end (except maybe one). Each relational conflict the Graces experience address those different facets that affect a whole person: parents, friends, lovers, enemies, education/experiences. Resolving each Grace’s trouble creates a more reassured present-day Grace. Perhaps more simply put, the worry about a future where incidents from childhood and present failures/successes have an effect, is drawn into a story called Good as Lily.

Good as Lily only becomes more complicated as I think about it. Read, the story is easy. Kim and Hamm are entertaining as they carrying us through the awkward and the sweet with a deft hand. Even appreciation for the way the creators render the differently aged Grace’s as individual comes later. Each Grace is remarkably similar in look and personality, but different. That particular desires of each Grace have not changed centers their shared identity.


The title was the only part that took its time being readily apparent. It took a while to meet Lily. Of course, the figure and the wording relay the standard by which Grace measures herself and her successes. However, it is not Lily who is actualized in order to haunt Grace–but Grace herself x3.

goodaslily03Grace is Korean-American, as are some of the other characters (see left), and Good as Lily denotes <dialog> translated from Korean and other times will asterisk a word for translation. Some great cultural readings can/will be made of this comic.* Derek Kirk Kim also writes convincing female characters. My notice is attached to an interview with author Danielle Evans that came to mind. Evans was asked if it was difficult writing a male character’s point-of-view: “His main issues weren’t really gendered, and his voice was pretty familiar, because it reminded me of some men I know.”

Jesse Hamm designs character, panel and page with appealing vitality. Some sequences are all his, yet he still manages the quantity of text with dexterity. The artwork is accessible, the play with form is hardly gratuitous/distracting. Savvy authors should have equally savvy artists and this is a team that proves itself. Hamm is amusing and sharp without drawing attention away from the story being told; even so, I could pause to appreciate moments his work delighted me with out breaking the stride of the book.

good as lily characters


Good as Lily provides all the drama and blushes of High School, threading the bow with that sweetest of story-lines: “I’ve been trying to giver her one of these [cards] every Valentine’s Day since 4th grade. Heh…It gets harder every year…”(Jeremy 99). There are some difficult moments in characters’ lives, but Kim/Hamm are excellent in generating the energy and humor to buoy the reader without being disingenuous.

Good as Lily is a nice addition to that Derek Kirk Kim collection of yours. Any-reader friendly, it is a nice Spring afternoon read. For fans of creators like Gene Luen Yang, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Bryan O’Malley Raina Teglemeier, Vera Brosgol…even Buffy.


*I skimmed a couple of reviews that seemed to rate the success of the book on whether it proved “important” or not; as if “important” trumped good craftsmanship; as if good craftsmanship isn’t important; as if “important” aka culturally relevant statement-making as compared to ? is where the pleasure of the art is derived, and, for them, evidently it is. I mean, I know it isn’t the best read ever! A range of emotions proceeded: fatigue, nausea, indignant, sadness. Is there an unfair burdening of certain works/creators…of readers? I wonder if we would all become misanthropes if we only read “important” reads.

a note: if you could explain the pig piñata? thanks.

{images belong to Derek Kirk Kim & Jesse Hamm}



Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

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