Showing posts with label Adrian Tomine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adrian Tomine. Show all posts

Friday, February 09, 2018

Review: Adrian Tomine's Killing and Dying

by Mike Rhode

If I had to come up with a quick descriptive word for Adrien Tomine's work (and I just did), I think I'd pick "astringent." Tomine's a master of a cool thin line with a flat color palette, and his stories are often about people you'd prefer to avoid IRL. Tomine will be in town at Politics and Prose talking with Linda Holmes about Killing and Dying, his 2015 collection of his Optic Nerve comic book now available in paperback.

I'm reviewing the book now, even thought I bought it at 2015 at the Small Press Expo, because Drawn & Quarterly sent me a comp copy, and I don't want them to think it was unappreciated. Also, because in spite of my description above, I like his work. There are six stories in the book, all obviously by Tomine, but all different from each other as well.

Tomine is one of the group of formerly alternative 1980's cartoonists such as Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware who've hit the big time, and whose work is now instantly recognizable, as they're doing regular covers for the New Yorker and publishing graphic novel collections on a regular basis. This is a far cry from when they all were part of the small press scene being published in 'floppies' by Fantagaphics Books. Amazingly, those who've stayed in the field have largely remained true to the aesthetic they developed in their early works.

Tomine's first story, "...Horticusculpture" is purposely constrained to appear to be a weekly comic strip telling the story of a man growing old while attempting to convince the world that his new plant/sculpture hybrid is art. Six "strips" in black & white mimic a daily, while the full page Sunday is in color. Someone more academically-minded could theorize about the appeal of old-fashioned comic strips for alternative comic book cartoonists; among others, Daniel Clowes did a whole book using this motif, as did Bob Sikoryak who cast his net of influences a bit wider in his book on Apple. In the end, Tomine's story is about a man who's largely a failure personally and professionally, but is redeemed in the very last panel by his family's love.

"Amber Sweet" is a story of a modern-day mistaken identity in that a college student is a doppleganger for a porn actress. This coincidence ruins her life until the two of them finally meet. "Go Owls" is a cautionary tale which of a woman letting a man assume control over her life under the guise of protecting her. "Translated, from the Japanese" could easily have appeared in the New Yorker. No people are shown in the story, just scenes from traveling on plane, but again it's another story about human loneliness and failure in relationships.

Local cartoonist Dana Maier told me yesterday that "Killing and Dying" is her favorite story in the book, but I had to dash off before we discussed it. We may have that conversation here, if I can convince her to. A part of another dysfunctional family, a teenage girl wants to try standup comedy, and her mother agrees while her father thinks it's a mistake. Tomine has put several twists in the story, so that's all I'll reveal. Finally, "Intruders" is from the point of view of a failed veteran who breaks into the apartment he used to live in during the day, attempting to recapture his happier past, while providing no trace of himself in the present.

Tomine's cool, cerebral stories won't be to everyone's taste, but they're definitely worth sampling and this is a good collection to start with. He's grown to be an assured artist and writer, and will continue to be part of the graphic novel 'canon' for years to come.

Adrian Tomine - Killing and Dying — in conversation with Linda Holmes — at Politics and Prose at The Wharf

Saturday, February 10, 2018 - 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Now available in paperback, this collection of six graphic stories shows the impressive range of Tomine’s narratives and his expressive use of line, color, and half-tones. Especially adept at capturing the nuances of character and emotion, Tomine, author/artist of Shortcomings and Scenes from an Impending Marriage, is one of the most literary of graphic storytellers. Many of the pieces here chart the turbulent arcs of relationships in which the partners are angry, disoriented, or both. In one variation on these themes, the title story focuses on a fourteen-year-old aspiring stand-up comic. As her mother praises her and her father criticizes her, the three work to deny the greater tragedy that is about to befall the family. Tomine will be in conversation with Linda Holmes, writer and editor for  NPR’s entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See.

This event is free to attend with no reservation required. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
Click here for more information.
Politics and Prose at The Wharf   70 District Square SW   Washington   DC    20024

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Weldon asks, 'what is that 24 page story-filled paper thing one buys each Wednesday anyway?'

See "What To Call the Comic Book?" by Glen Weldon, National Public Radio's Monkey See blog (May 13 2009).

Oddly enough, the US Department of State examines some of the same issues in "Asian-American Authors Explore Identity, Cultural Roots," By Lauren Monsen, NewsBlaze May 12,2009, where she talks to "Adrian Tomine (a fourth-generation Japanese American), Gene Luen Yang (a Chinese American) and Derek Kirk Kim (a Korean American who immigrated to the United States at age 8)."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Glen Weldon on A Drifting Life manga and Shuster porn

See "Books We Like: Memoir Of A Manga Master," by Glen Weldon,, April 24, 2009 on A Drifting Life By Yoshihiro Tatsumi; translated by Adrian Tomine.

For Shuster porn info read, "Faster Than a Speeding Bullwhip: Superman Creator's Kinktastic Art," by Glen Weldon, National Public Radio's Monkey See blog (April 15 2009).

And for Craig Yoe's own take, you can listen to him on Fresh Air - "The Sexy 'Secret Identity' Of Superman's Creator," National Public Radio's Fresh Air from WHYY, April 23, 2009.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Seth, Tomine, Neely illos among others in today's NY Times Magazine

Seth, Tomine, and Neely have illos among others in today's NY Times Magazine in this article - "Risk Mismanagement" - click on each page at the bottom to see the next set.

Jillian Tamaki illustrated a book review and a few days ago, J.D. Salinger.

Last week, David Hajdu eulogized Will Elder in "His Mad World," By DAVID HAJDU, New York Times Magazine December 28, 2008.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Adrian Tomine "Shortcomings" signing pictures

Here's some photographs from Adrian Tomine's signing of Shortcomings at Politics and Prose. He spoke for about 45 minutes and you can buy a cd recording from the bookstore.

100_4718 Adrian Tomine
This slide shows a page of original art that he sketched and then changed when inking it. Previous to "Shortcomings" he wrote a full script before drawing anything.

100_4718 Adrian Tomine
This and the next slide show real buildings he drew.

100_4720 Adrian Tomine

100_4721 Adrian Tomine

Tomine's been asked if this is autobiographical, partly due to the resemblance you can see between him and his main character Ben Tanaka, "who's a prick".

100_4722 Adrian Tomine

There have been a lot of Tomine interviews done lately (list available on request) and you can see a link to Scott Rosenberg's on this blog. Tomine specifically singled out an NPR one as asking him a question he hates - why he hasn't done more "Asian-American experience" comics. That would probably be this interview -

Gross, Terry. 2008.
Adrian Tomine, Drawing Delicately from Life.
National Public Radio and WHYY's Fresh Air (January 31).
online at

Movie-theater owner Ben Tanaka is having relationship issues; his girlfriend, Miko, suspects he's secretly attracted to white women. (She's right, but he won't admit it.)

In Shortcomings, Asian-American graphic novelist Adrian Tomine (Scrapbook, Summer Blonde) has finally done what many fans and critics have suggested he should: addressed race in his work.

Tomine is celebrated for the grace and sophistication of his work; novelist Jonathan Lethem says that "his mastery of literary time suggests Alice Munro," and Junot Diaz says Tomine's "dramatic instincts are second-to-none."

- and of course, one of the four or five questions he got at P&P was this question too.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March 5 - Miss Columbia and Mr. Tomine

Remember - Whatever happened to Miss Columbia lecture at noon at the Library of Congress and then Adrian Tomine at 7 pm at Politics and Prose up Nebraska. I'm thinking both of these should be good, although I'm betting Miss Columbia got subsumed into the Statue of Liberty, aka Lady Liberty. Just look at some 9-11 cartoons of her and Uncle Sam hanging together.

The City Paper's blurb on Tomine's online now too.

Monday, February 25, 2008

March 5: Adrian Tomine at Polilitics and Prose

Just got an email from Drawn and Quarterly with his Shortcomings book tour schedule and it's WASHINGTON DC Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 7:00 PM Politics & Prose. See