Graphic Novel Review: The Eternal Smile

Graphic Novel Review: The Eternal SmileThe Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Derek Kirk Kim, Gene Luen Yang
Published by First Second on April 27, 2009
Genres: Anthologies, Fantasy, Humor, Short Stories
Pages: 170
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Meet Duncan.
Charming and brave, he's the Princess's favorite--and he's on his way to winning the throne. But lately, the walls of reality in Duncan's kingdom are wearing a little thin...

Meet Gran'pa Greenbax.
Nothing seems to satisfy this greedy old frog's longing for a pool full of gold--until, one day, a mysterious smile appears in the sky. Has his chance at happiness come at last?

Meet Janet.
Her nine-to-five life takes a turn for the romantic when she learns in an email from a mysterious Nigerian prince that she has been chosen to liberate his family's vast fortune. All he needs is her banking information.

In three very different stories, master storytellers Gene Yang and Derek Kirk pit fantasy against reality, for good or for ill. Subtle, surprising, and entirely entertaining, The Eternal Smile delves into our dreams, and the unexpected places they lead.

Brief Summary:
The Eternal Smile is a compilation of three different stories, all with their own plots and art styles. The first story, “Duncan’s Kingdom” explores the imagination of a young man, who believes himself to be a hero in love with a princess. The second story, “Gran’pa Greenbax and The Eternal Smile” features the persistent grin from the title of this volume, along with a money-grubbing, anthropomorphic frog (who is somewhat reminiscent of Scrooge McDuck, especially in his love for money pits). The final story, “Urgent Request” focuses on an unhappy, passed over, put upon office worker who falls for an internet scam.

The first and last stories share a common theme of escapism into imagination, although the two characters respond differently to a confrontation with the fact that they are living in their fantasy worlds. I liked this first story the best, both the art and the plot line. The second story I found to be largely obnoxious, although the ending redeemed it somewhat. The last story just depressed me, as the character could hardly have been more pitiful than she was. The fact that each tale had clearly been illustrated by someone different also bothered me a bit when all sandwiched together this way, especially since I did not like some of the art (last story, I’m looking at you). This is definitely a quick read though, so, if you’re interested, go ahead and give it a go.

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