Friday, September 4, 2009

The Eternal Smile: Three Stories

The Eternal Smile: Three Stories
by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
First Second Books, 2009. 170 pgs. YA Comics

Yang and Kim's compilation of three short stories is unsettling, irritating, and eye-opening. And, of course, extremely well wrought. In "Duncan's Kingdom" a young man lives a heroic life in a fantasy kingdom threatened by the king of the frogs. He might have lived happily ever after . . . but he insists on knowing the truth. One could almost name real names of the greedy gopher and sort of Scrooge McFrog figure amassing cash in rival Churches of the Eternal Smile.
Little do those creatures know they are being manipulated by someone even higher up. In "Urgent Request" a lonely, dowdy little flunky at CommTech communications seemingly falls for the old Nigerian prince scam, but in fact discovers something more valuable to her than her monetary losses. Yang and Kim administer a big-time beatdown to organized religion in these pages, but also have interesting points to make about the uses, for good and ill, of fantasy and imagination.

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