Indie Comic Review: Tune: Vanishing Point

Derek Kirk Kim is back with another tale of a lovable loser who has relationship problems, work/school/life problems, and issues with parents who straddle a cultural divide. But this time, there is a twist. Aliens.

Andy’s life is going nowhere, fast. He left art school with his career all worked out ahead of time, but …to say it didn’t work out is the understatement of the century. Unemployed and living with his overbearing parents, Andy struggles to keep sight of the lofty goals that once drove him. But it’s hard, even when he reconnects with his old art school crush, Yumi.

Things look better, briefly, with Yumi back in the picture and an actual job offer on the table. But then Andy takes the job offer–to work at a zoo–and finds himself in an alternate dimension. The zoo? Is run by aliens. The exhibit? Is him.

The vast majority of Tune takes place before Andy’s newfound zoo life, and chronicles the series of events and missteps which landed him in this predicament. The scenarios are often humorous, but there is an underlying sense of isolation and loneliness which permeates the book. Not only is it talked about openly in Andy’s inner monologue, but Kirk Kim reinforces it with his paneling and page layout. Each page is set against a black expanse of space. every page leaves at least one panel-space open, revealing that vast void. It re-enforces the separation Andy feels from the rest of the world and the distance he is from his dreams.

Not only is the layout integral to the experience of the book, but Kirk Kim’s sense of timing is impeccable. The reveal of Andy in the space zoo is priceless and is one of the best comic moments of the year. Each scene is carefully laid out for maximum impact, delivering the humor at exactly the right moment. Pacing is something which is fundamental to a good comic, and Kirk Kim nails it over and over again in Tune.

Kirk Kim’s cartooning was the only relative weak point in the book. By relative I mean “better than 90% of what is on the market today”. Andy seems to fluctuate in age between appearing twelve and twenty-one. Some of this is the hazards of cartooning. Cartoons are not supposed to look realistic, and Kirk Kim uses this to great effect most of the time. But in some scenes Andy looks like he should be in middle school while in others he looks like he fits in at the “grown up” table.

Tune is ridiculously fun. Laugh out loud moments punctuate superb layout and timing. The story is interesting and there is no telling where it will end up. I can only hope this is the first in many, many volumes of this series!

Tune is available in stores today! Still not convinced? Check out a preview here.

Order your copy of Tune: Vanishing Point here.

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