Tune, vol. 2

Tune 2Summary: In the second installment of the TUNE series of graphic novels, our hapless hero Andy Go is settling into life in an alien zoo…as one of the exhibits. It’s not so bad: the food is good, and his environment is a perfect copy of his house back on Earth. But everything falls to pieces when Andy realizes he’s been tricked: there will be no weekend visits back to Earth, as he was promised, and his contract doesn’t last one year…it lasts a lifetime.

Funny, sweet, and incredibly goofy, TUNE is Derek Kirk Kim writing at the top of his talents. Tune: Still Life introduces artist Les McClaine, who brings a new level of sensitivity to the story. Fans of the first volume will be delighted by this new entry in the series.
Tune, vol. 2, by Derek Kirk Kim and Les McClaine 7.5

After reading the first volume of ‘Tune’, I craved for more: Andy Go’s entitlement and navel-gazing rendered me curious to know how he would cope with being locked up in an alien zoo. What kind of impact might it have on such a slacker? And what lay in store for him?

Since my local library didn’t have volume 2, I got it through an inter-library loan.

I just had to.

And the moment it arrived, I made sure that I put everything else aside to read it.

I devoured it.

But I was left slightly unsatisfied.

What made volume 1 work was the realistic character dynamics between Andy and his friends, his parents and Yumi, the girl he not-so-secretly pines for. As someone who is fascinated with human behaviour, I was utterly taken with the dialogues and inner monologues.

Kim has a very good understanding of his main character, so his thoughts, actions and reactions felt true to me. Mostly. He did take a few liberties, making Andy a bit more clueless in some areas than others for comedy’s sake; that left me slightly incredulous. Slightly.

Unfortunately, this book is set in an alternate dimension, where the dynamics are less interesting or relatable. In volume 2, Andy is alone in a replica of his parents’ home, sequestered in this zoo under the gazes of its visitors. He has limited interactions with anyone.

It’s surprisingly engrossing anyway, which is a real tribute to Kim’s skill – few writers could make a one-character play set in one location interesting. But he does. Part of what helps is that he peppers the pot with a few cameos from various aliens (albeit mostly Praxians).

And an alternate Yumi.

Yeah, you read right: Yumi shows up.

But she’s not Yumi. And this causes quite a few problems for Andy, who is now stuck sharing his confinement with this person. Add to this the fact that he’s discovered that the terms by which he thought he signed on aren’t quite what he’d expected, and the tension builds.

What will Andy do? What can he do? What fate awaits our naïve, careless cartoonist?

I sure wish I knew.

Unfortunately, there is no volume 3. And there are no signs that there will ever be one: Apparently, Kim’s publisher, First Second, has decided to put a halt to it. He is forging ahead with his story, however, but in novel form – so Andy Go’s full adventure should be published shortly.

Of course, this means that we won’t be privy to the delightful artwork that complements this quirky tale. Kim’s character designs are pure eye candy and he is as articulate telling a visual story as he is in expressing his characters’ thoughts with the written word. It’s a great loss.

Having said this, for volume 2, he had delegated the artistic duties to Les McClaine, presumably so that he could divide the workload and publish ‘Tune’ faster (trust me, writing and drawing a comic strip is time consuming stuff!). So it wasn’t quite the same as volume 1.

McClaine did a commendable job of emulating Kim’s style, all the while adding his own little flourishes. But it wasn’t quite as appealing to me. For some reason, the art didn’t pop in quite the way that Kim’s original stuff did. And so I read this one with a little less enthusiasm.

It sincerely missed Kim’s touch.

In any event, at this juncture I look forward to any continuation, if not completion, of ‘Tune’; this is a story worth telling and reading. I’m very curious to see the direction that Kim will go in with his novel. Were volumes 1 and 2 two acts in three-act tale? Or is there more?

I can’t wait to tune in and find out.

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