Same Difference

Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim Published by First Second $16.99

I have many regrets in life.

If only I would have decked that kid in 8th grade who made my life a living hell.

If only I would have put a the opportunity for a life experience (foreign exchange) in front of the girl I was dating (second base was pretty exciting!).

If only I had payed attention in computer class instead of crank calling people on the dial-up modem (fun until you dial 911 and the police arrive).

If only I would have packed a lunch instead of eating the leftover Chinese takeout (Shrimp Fried Rice) that had been sitting in my car for 48 hours.

Yes.  I have many regrets.

More than once I have wished for a do-over opportunity like the one in Alex Robinson’s Too Cool To Be Forgotten.  How would my life have been different?  Maybe I wouldn’t have those lingering doubts and feelings of insecurity.  Maybe I would speak better Spanish.  Maybe I would not have a juvenile record sealed by the state of California.  Maybe I would not have the pleasure of learning about safe food handling practices from a practical standpoint.

But would my life better?

Is there something wrong with my life now? 

Derek Kirk Kim’s graphic novel, Same Difference, explores the lingering doubts and missed opportunities of two friends making their way in life.  For Simon it is the blind girl he snubbed in high school because he was too self-conscious and insecure.  What did it say about him if he could only get a date with a blind girl????  For Nancy, starting down a path with a little lie, leads to bigger lies and an innocent person getting hurt.

What if they both got a chance for a do-over?

As fate would have it, on one day they both get just that opportunity; not in the form of a psychedelic trip through time, but as chance encounters with the objects of their regrets.  The decisions that each makes helps to define who they are and who they will be in the future.

The book is powerful, moving, and strikes at the heart without being overbearing and a morose.  Kirk Kim’s storytelling skills are incredibly mature.  His characters speak and act in such a believable way that I felt like I was there having Pho with them, or riding along in the car asking the same questions: Would I?  Could I?  Should I?  At the same time, the book is full of humor, just as life is full of funny moments that break the tension and ease the pain.

Kirk Kim’s art is equally believable.  Not just because he uses people and places from his own life as the basis for his characters and locales, but because he imbues each with a sould of their own.  They are not just carbon copies or mindless reproductions.  Each person, place, and action has been carefully crafted.  There are no wasted panels or scenes.

Normally when I come to the end of a short story (Same Difference is 80 pages) I find myself wanting more.  But when I was done with Same Difference, I just closed the book and smiled.  Like finishing a good bowl of Pho, I am full and satisfied and left with the pleasant memory of time well-spent with friends.  Is there more that I could ask for?

With Same Difference, you will not find yourself asking for a do over.  Instead you will find yourself rushing to your LCS to find more books from Derek Kirk Kim.  Luckily for you, he has several more to choose from!

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