Tune: Vanishing Point
I wish I’d paid more attention to the book information that says “first volume of a series”. I somehow was expecting Tune: Vanishing Point to conclude in this book, or even to reach a satisfying stopping point. I don’t think it did. There may not be a volume two for another few years, and by that point, I won’t remember much of this one.
It also takes the story a long time to get started. I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to reveal what’s included in the book’s sales description, so I’ll say that the story is bookended and promoted as the tale of how Andy, art school dropout, becomes an exhibit in an alien zoo. Unfortunately, a large part of this volume is all about that time in art school and being a student slacker. It’s much too familiar; I’ve seen it all before. It’s very well-drawn, as I’d expect from author Derek Kirk Kim, but I didn’t need to read another young person complaining about how hard it is to find work as an artist and how pushy his parents are in forcing him to get a job.
On top of that is layered the standard “I like that girl, but I’m too shy to do anything about it.” Again, a storyline that’s all too common, and in this case, resolved both coincidentally and in a bit of a creepy fashion. She isn’t much of a well-realized character, just a typical “funny nerd girl”, and the story pacing is inconsistent and on the slow side, perhaps due to the work’s origin as a webcomic.
The protagonist is a sad sack with nothing to recommend him. As of this volume, we don’t see him learn or grow or improve in any way, and his starting point isn’t someone I want to spend this much time with. Kim’s earlier stories with similar characters didn’t rub me the wrong way so much, perhaps because we were all younger then and I cut more slack. Now, I expect more.
As I said before, the art is lovely, but the layout is weird. Panels are scattered across a black star-spangled background (I guess to justify the “science-fiction comedy” label). There seems to be no consideration given to the page layout as a unit, with standard rectangular panels arranged in blocks. The reading order is always clear, but you sometimes wind up with pages that look like someone was interrupted in the middle of playing dominoes, with L shapes or odd paths.
Tune: Vanishing Point is due out in mid-November. The publisher’s site has some preview pages. If you’re not sure if you want the book, you can read it online at the comic’s site. Note that the second and following volumes aren’t illustrated by Kim but by Les McClaine (The Middleman). (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)