Tune, vol. 1

Tune 1Summary: 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.

Derek Kirk Kim is back with an offbeat, poignant new graphic novel. The first volume of a comics series, Tune is a science fiction comedy, but it’s also a smart and affectionate examination of human nature.

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Tune, vol. 1, by Derek Kirk Kim 8.5

Derek Kirk Kim does it yet again!

‘Tune’ is the story of Andy Go, a college drop-out who, unable to find work as an illustrator, and under pressure from his parents, winds up taking a gig working in a zoo. Except that it’s not a typical zoo – it’s one in which he’s the object of attention.

And it’s not even in this universe!

The beginning of ‘Tune’ sets the stage before flashing back a few months to show us the events leading to Andy’s peculiar new employment. There’s plenty of character development as he introduces us to his friends, his parents, and Yumi, the apple of his eye.

Because, above all else, ‘Tune’ is a love story. Or, rather, a story of love thus-far-unrequited: Andy and Yumi have been friends for years, sharing art classes and hanging out at extra-curricular activities. Sadly, Andy is incapable of making a move…

Holy déjà vu, Batman!

It was easy to recognize myself in Andy, having been a slacker student myself, being socially-awkward and finding myself admiring women at a distance. I laughed knowingly at his misplaced assertions and beliefs, as well as his many insecurities.

His interactions with his friends and family all felt very realistic to me, and they were all peppered with a liberal amount of humour; Kim’s observations are quite astute and he knows how to highlight the absurdity of human behaviour in most contexts.

He also has a knack for expressing his characters’ many vulnerabilities in a realistic, amusing and endearing fashion. Despite the characters being flawed, very human, we can’t help but relate to them in one way or another; their views aren’t alien.

Ahem… except for the aliens. Naturally.

Kim is also an extremely skilled artist and these black and white pages are extremely well-thought out and detailed. Every panel is clearly carefully crafted and each of his characters are perfectly expressive. It impossible for me to fault his work.

All told, while the backstory of ‘Tune’ will seem familiar to most, the delivery is sizzling and the wrap-around premise is original. It’s really all in the way it’s told that Derek Kirk Kim makes ‘Tune’ fresh and enticing. Once I started reading it, I just couldn’t stop.

I look forward to reading more.

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