Good as Lily

The every-other-book-is-good Minx pattern continues. It’s not the best book in the line (that would be Re-Gifters), but it’s a close second. Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) writes and Jesse Hamm draws this story of Grace, a girl just turning 18 who magically encounters herself at the ages of 6, 29, and 70.

Good as Lily cover
Good as Lily
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Why now? Because Grace is unsure of where her life is going to take her, and her other selves aren’t very reassuring. The 29-year-old is single. The 6-year-old only wants to eat constantly. And the eldest is an annoying pain. This is a turning point for Grace, her chance to experiment with love and being the lead in the school play before she heads off to college and adulthood.

The exposition is naturally presented, with all of Grace’s friends introduced as they give her birthday gifts at a surprise picnic. Best friend Jeremy wants to be more, something subtly clear to the reader from their introduction to him. Typical of the high school age, though, Grace needs more of a nudge. She’s distracted by her crush on Mr. Levon, her drama teacher.

Particularly impressive in terms of the writing is how Kim balances the voices. All four women are Grace, so they should all sound like her, but at the same time, they’re distinctive in their concerns and attitudes, as demonstrated when they first meet and squabble. Plotwise, the book is dense, with plenty happening. The reader is involved in events at just the right level — they’re not spelled out simply, but everything’s there if paying attention.

They’re well-selected for visuals, too, like a car wash and a food fight and family dinner, all choices that allow for lots of character movement and varying angles. It’s also great to see the classic mean girl showdown resulting in Grace standing up for herself instead of running away in embarrassment.

I love the images of Grace swinging at the magic pinata that spurs the story. I can see her moving, and the montage effect captures the wild nature of blindfolded batting. That almost makes up for not understanding exactly how all this happens, with the other versions of herself, but that’s not really the point of the story, either. It’s a Maguffin — accept it in order to get to the point. Which is that being open and honest with others about how you feel is always much better off in the long run.

One thing Minx gets very right is their usage of cultures and backgrounds beyond the white Midwesterner. It’s neat seeing Grace and her Korean family and friends presented so naturally. Paul O’Brien also enjoyed the book. Hamm has been interviewed and shares eight art tips. There’s an online preview if you click through the publisher’s promo site.


5 Responses to “Good as Lily”

  1. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Nov. 28, 2007: Watashi wa Kira desu Says:

    [...] in Raina Telgemeier’s Baby-Sitters Club series, and Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm’s Good as Lily. (Above: Sequence from the Good as Lily, ©2007 2007 Derek Kirk Kim and DC [...]

  2. John Says:

    I enjoyed this one, but it didn’t wow me. Had nice underlying themes though and appreciated its sincerity. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the fact that you see her 30 year old self and then her elderly self, as if there is no life in between that’s of any consequence – or that the decisions you make at that age keep you on a track of despair from which you cannot get off. Obviously I realize that adding in more selves would have made for a very confusing book, but I found that I couldn’t shrug off the implications.

  3. Johanna Says:

    That’s a really interesting observation, John. I doubt the authors intended to say “nothing in between young adulthood and old age matters” — instead, I think those are the times you most focus on “what life choices should I make?” or “what if I’d done something differently?”

  4. John Says:

    I think you are right, perhaps its the unintended implications of the omission that bother me? Regardless, I liked it.

  5. Minx Now and Future » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Good as Lily [...]

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