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Graphic Novel Twofer: The Eternal Smile / Good-bye Chunky Rice

November 22, 2013

It’s a graphic novel twofer today! This post has mini-reviews for The Eternal Smile AND Good-bye, Chunky Rice! Two reviews for the price of one! Lucky you!

85. The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim (2009)

Length: 170 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Short Stories

Started/Finished: 28 October 2013

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Random browsing.

Summary: This book is a collection of three stories, each addressing places where the line between fantasy and reality gets blurry. In “Duncan’s Kingdom”, Duncan is a knight and the hero of the kingdom, but he can’t shake the feeling that there’s something he’s not being told. In “Gran’pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile”, Gran’pa Greenbax is a money-loving frog who seeks to capitalize on a mysterious smile that appears floating in the sky. In “Urgent Request”, Janet is lonely and unappreciated, but when she receives an e-mail from a Nigerian prince requesting her help, she decides to respond and see what happens.

Review: I liked these stories a lot. “Gran’pa Greenbax” was my least favorite; it was over-the-top in terms of the dialog and the artwork, and even though all of the over-the-top-ness did have a point, it was enough initially to put me off of the story. I liked “Urgent Request” quite a bit; the artwork was totally gorgeous and it was great to watch Janet come to terms with herself and her situation (But it wasn’t a “Girl Power!” type of thing; it maintained a little haunting note of melancholy underneath it all.) But I think “Duncan’s Kingdom” was my favorite, maybe because it was a more traditional type of fantasy, but I think because it packed the biggest emotional punch. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This is one of those graphic novels that I think has something to appeal to almost everyone who likes graphic novels, and maybe something to entice those that haven’t tried one before.

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Other Reviews: Book Addiction, Eclectic/Eccentric, The Englishist, Things Mean a Lot, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: “ZZZZZ”

86. Good-bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson (1999)

Length: 128 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Contemporary Fiction

Started/Finished: 30 October 2013

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Random browsing.

Summary: Chunky Rice is a turtle who has decided that he needs to pull up stakes and move – even though that means leaving his best friend behind. The captain of the ship he’s on throws out most of his stuff and makes him work for passage, even though he bought a ticket, and there’s other passengers, a pair of Siamese twins, aren’t making life any easier.

Review: This was a sweet, sad, hopeful, charming little story. It’s all about friendships and loss and separation, and it made me miss my distant friends something fierce. (The story that affected me the most, though, was that of Chunky Rice’s neighbor and his bird, Merle. doot doot!) There’s a lot of bizarre elements to the story, and a lot of pieces that don’t really bear up under any level of scrutiny, but it doesn’t matter so much, since the emotion shines through. The artwork is definitely striking, and Thompson does some interesting things with the panelling, but the style is not my favorite – I don’t know how to describe it, other than saying it reminded me a little of Ren & Stimpy in the bizarre and slightly-off-ness of the figures and parts of their world. But nevertheless, a good read, and a break from the usual. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Yeesh, I don’t know. Best for people who like stories about friendship and are not super-dependent on literal representations of the world?

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Other Reviews: My Books My Life, Shelf Love, So Many Books
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First Line: Clunk. Someday you’re going to break my window throwing rocks at it like that.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2013 8:30 am

    You know, I sometimes wonder if Craig Thompson is a guy who had one really really good story in him (Blankets), and everything else he’s carrying by virtue of being able to draw extremely well. (I wasn’t wild about Chunky Rice or Habibi.) I just think it would be interesting to see a comic book that Thompson illustrated and somebody else wrote.

    • November 29, 2013 10:15 am

      Jenny – I’ve heard a lot of good things about Blankets, so I’ll have to see if I can get it from the library.

  2. November 22, 2013 9:01 am

    Good-Bye Chunky Rice sounds like one I’d enjoy!

    • November 29, 2013 10:15 am

      Kathy – I hope you’re able to lay hands on a copy!

  3. November 22, 2013 11:38 am

    Adding The Eternal Smile to my to-read list now.

  4. November 23, 2013 7:29 pm

    I thought American Born Chinese was great, and I like the sound of The Eternal Smile.

    • November 29, 2013 10:16 am

      Laurie – The stories were very different between the two, but somehow I felt like the sensibility was the same, if that makes sense.

  5. November 25, 2013 12:49 pm

    I really liked The Eternal Smile. I have never heard of Good-Bye Chunky Rice before. I will have to check it out!

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