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Same Difference and Other Stories
Derek Kirk Kim
Small Stories, 143 pages

Same Difference and Other Stories
Derek Kirk Kim
Derek Kirk Kim has been serializing his stories every week day at his web site for three years now. He lives in Pacifica, California where he grew up. He spent two years in South Korea and has lived in Oakland, California.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox


"Y'know, I've always wondered... just what the heck is 'Oriental Flavor'?"
I'm not sure if anyone can answer that question or should even try... but it all makes some sort of sense when you take a twisted voyage through Pacifica, California as seen through the eyes of a self-obsessed twenty-something.

The internet has allowed a plethora of aspiring artists to post their comics and cartoons for all to see. This isn't always a good thing, but a few jewels are hidden amongst the myriad of autobiographical, poorly sketched rants out there. Same Difference and Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim is one of those jewels.

Kim's artwork can be seen in full color glory at and he keeps the site updated with serials and stand-alone strips on a (most of the time) regular basis. Same Difference is his first collection of this work in print. Kim's artistic style has such incredible range and depth that the black and white pages are full of life and humor. True, there's very little SF or fantasy related material in it, but there's enough pop culture references to have any child of the 80s laughing with delight and nostalgia.

The central story involves Simon and Nancy, two Korean friends on a mission of sorts... which is really tough to explain, but the reader can't help but be drawn into their world of Pho, Cherry Garcia and High School regrets. And any story that makes reference to 1985 sleeper hit Real Genius as well as the world of Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere (M.U.S.C.L.E. for you philistines) is deserving of praise.

The book also contains many of Kim's short stories which serve to show just how versatile a writer he is. From the hilariously lonely and suicidal Oliver Pikk (a talking, lonely olive whose roommate, a sloth, gets more action than he does) to more hard hitting pieces like "Super Unleaded" about family unrest in suburbia, all aspects of early adulthood are touched upon.

And, since it's easiest to write what you know, it's rather obvious that Kim took a lot of his inspiration from his own life. So, yes, there's quite a bit of "lonely-guy-complaining-about-not-having-a-girlfriend" whining, but it actually comes off as endearing. Kim is very proud of his Korean heritage and it does come through in his work, but not in a preachy manner.

Track down Same Difference and Other Stories and read it. Then read it again. The stories don't get old and you'll find characters that are just like people you know. And you'll see why comic guru Scott McCloud says:

"No American cartoonist has more promise in 2003 than Derek Kirk Kim."

Copyright © 2003 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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