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The Eternal Smile: Three Stories Paperback – April 28, 2009


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The Eternal Smile: Three Stories + Level Up + American Born Chinese
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: First Second (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596431563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596431560
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


Book Description
From two masters of the graphic novel--Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) come fantastical adventures through the worlds we live in and the worlds we create: the story of a prince who defeats his greatest enemy only to discover that maybe his world is not what it had seemed; the story of a frog who finds that just being a frog might be the way to go; and the story of a woman who receives an email from Prince Henry of Nigeria asking for a loan to help save his family. With vivid artwork and moving writing, Derek Kirk Kim and Gene Luen Yang test the boundaries between fantasy and reality, exploring the ways that the world of the imagination can affect real life.

Three Short Stories from The Eternal Smile
Each pair of panels below belongs to one of the three stories in the book: "Duncan's Kingdom," "Gran'pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile," and "Urgent Request."
Click on each panel to enlarge [pdf].




Prince Duncan goes on a quest to avenge
the king's murder and marry the princess.


Grandpa Greenbax the frog sees what
looks like a smile in the sky and hopes
it will answer his prayers.


Janet's ho-hum life gets interesting
after she receives an email from a
Nigerian prince.




From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This collaboration between multiple-award winners Yang (American Born Chinese) and Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) is an eagerly awaited event that actually pays off. Yang writes and Kim illustrates in a medley of different styles united by meticulous detail, almost throwaway beauty and riveting storytelling. All three stories deal with levels of fantasy and how humans use it to escape or transcend everyday tedium and suffering. In Duncan's Kingdom, a fairy tale about a brave youth, beautiful princess and dastardly frog king is played out; the fantasy is so note perfect that the truth of the situation comes as a shock. In The Eternal Smile, Gran'pa Greenbax is an avaricious frog whose moneymaking schemes are first boosted then dashed by the appearance of a mysterious, peaceful smile in the sky. Riffing off classic Disney comic books and evangelical clichés, it's a sharp satire far more complex than it first appears. In Urgent Request, Janet, a schlumpy drone at a tech company, answer a Nigerian scam e-mail to liven up her drab life. However, her motives are not as they originally appear. Shattering the borders between our real and fantasy lives, these bold, masterfully crafted fables have real staying power. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Gene Luen Yang began making comic books in the fifth grade. He has since written and drawn a number of titles. His 2006 book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album - New. His 2013 two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints was nominated for both the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Award. Gene currently writes the graphic novel continuation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Shadow Hero, his recent comic book series with Sonny Liew, revives the Green Turtle, an obscure 1940s character who is arguably the first Asian American superhero. The Shadow Hero is now available as individual digital issues via Amazon Kindle. The print trade paperback collection will be released on July 15, 2014.

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Popular Discussion Topics

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By GreenBeanTeenQueen on July 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed American Born Chinese when I read it after it won the Printz award, so I was excited when I came across this one at my library. It combines Gene Leun Yang's storytelling with Derek Kirk Kim's artwork (who I know from his Minx comic, Good As Lily). The result is a great collection of short comics that are fun to read.

What I really like about Yang's writing is that there's always a little twist that I never see coming, but still totally fits with the story. It works in each one and I'm never disappointed. Kim's artwork stands out and he makes each story have a different feel-you can see samples of the panels on the Amazon page. I love the way everything blended together and each story flowed well with the art.

I enjoyed all three stories and how each one had a deeper story than what first appears on the surface, but my favorite had to be "Urgent Request," the last story in the collection. There was something about Janet that made her a sympathetic character and I really liked how Kim drew her and was able to get her emotions across the page. Her story was bittersweet and I really liked it.

If you need a way to convince someone that graphic novels and comics aren't all about superheroes and cute Japanese girls, give them The Eternal Smile. It's a graphic novel for non-graphic novel fans, and for those who have long enjoyed the format.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Casey on May 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
A good short story is hard to find. The writer doesn't have a lot of pages to make the reader care about the characters and in these same pages, a complete story also has to be told. There is nothing like finishing a good short story and just getting this great feeling of content. This book collects three short graphic stories that leave me feeling complete and really shows what a great storyteller both these creators are. Each story has a few twists and turns and they all have enough emotional impact to make you think after you finish each one.

Gene Yang's debut book, American Born Chinese, was such a great book. The interwoven stories in that book made it perfect, and I recommend that book to a lot of non-comic fans that want to give comics a try. I believe this book can also be recommended to anyone. The three short stories will appeal to anyone and I don't think it could be told as well in any other format except as a graphic novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Fannon on March 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Eternal Smile is a collection of short comics by authors and artists Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories). The comics follow different characters and even have very different drawing and writing styles, but all have the same theme: nothing is really ever how we perceive it and it only takes one event (or one scene, or one word) to change our world view. All three sections had a lovely twist at the end that really solidified the strength of these stories.

Duncan's Kingdom is about a young soldier who is determined to marry his sweetheart, who just happens to be the princess of the land. When her father, the king, is killed by the Frog King, the princess announces that whoever avenges her father's death with the head of the Frog King will earn her hand in marriage. Duncan, with the help of his adopted guardian The Patchwork Man, goes on a journey to avenge the king. Along the way things are out of place and Duncan begins to question the very foundation of his kingdom. The twist at the end of this story was not necessarily unexpected and I liked it, but I think it was the weakest of the three stories. This is not necessarily a fault of the story, but the other two were so strong.

I thought that Gran'pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile was going to be my least favorite comic. At first I really didn't like it and was going to skip it entirely. I just didn't love the story and thought it was kind of boring and I didn't understand the point. And then I did understand the point and it ended up being my favorite of all. I don't want to give anything away, but if you are reading this and consider giving up the story, don't. I think it's the strongest and most imaginative of the three.
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Format: Paperback
Posted first at the Fantasy Literature review site.

The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

I just finished reading The Eternal Smile for a second time to see if I would like it as much as I did the first time. The answer is, "Yes." There's no doubt in my mind that this work is a truly great comic book that is unique in presenting three very different short stories with overlapping themes. They are extremely different in look and in genre, but they come together to present some unified ideas about the dreams we have, the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories of our lives that we want to deny.

Author and artist Derek Kirk Kim, though perhaps not as well known as Gene Luen Yang, has written several books I love and hope to review in the near future: Same Difference and Tune: Vanishing Point and Tune: Still Life. Author and artist Gene Luen Yang is best known for his graphic novel American Born Chinese, which has won almost every award anybody could think up. It usually gets mentioned in the same breath as Maus and Persepolis, particularly by those who tend to have a distaste for superhero comic books and claim to read "graphic novels" only and not "comics.” American Born Chinese IS a great graphic novel — a label I save for comic books issued as stand-alone novels rather than collected monthlies. However, though I like The Eternal Smile even better, I can imagine that fans of American Born Chinese, Maus, and Persepolis who also do not like a wide variety of comics, will still like American Born Chinese better than The Eternal Smile. Why? Because this short story comic book collection plays with comic book genres in a way that I think will be best appreciated by those who read widely in this field of art.
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