||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2009)|
Tomine at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival
May 31, 1974 |
Sacramento, CA, USA
|Notable works||Optic Nerve|
|Adrian Tomine (author picture)|
|Excerpt from Shortcomings|
Adrian Tomine was born May 31, 1974 in Sacramento, California. His parents divorced when he was two years old. His father is Dr. Chris Tomine, Ph.D. and Professor Emeritus Environmental Engineering at California State University Sacramento's Department of Civil Engineering. His mother is Dr. Satsuki Ina, Ph.D. and Professor Emeritus at California State University Sacramento's School of Education. Tomine is fourth-generation Japanese American, and both of his parents spent part of their childhoods in Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during World War II. He also has a brother, Dylan, who is eight years his senior.
After his parents divorced, Tomine moved frequently, accompanying his mother to Fresno, Oregon, Germany, and Belgium, while spending summers with his father in Sacramento. He attended high school at Rio Americano in Sacramento, where he started writing, drawing and self-publishing his comic Optic Nerve. Tomine has continued producing Optic Nerve as a regular comic book series for Drawn & Quarterly; the most recent issue was published in September 2011.
Tomine graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English Literature. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Sarah Brennan, a longtime New Yorker. On October 31, 2009, Tomine and Brennan welcomed their first child, Nora Emiko Tomine.
As a young child, Tomine enjoyed Spider-Man and Indiana Jones comics. In an interview, Tomine said that "something about the medium just transfixed me at an early age" and that his influences include Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes. He is also a fan of contemporary Chris Ware. In addition to writing graphic novels such as Summer Blonde and Shortcomings, Tomine regularly works in commercial illustration. He has done several covers and illustrations for The New Yorker; his first was "Missed Connection".
Tomine began publishing his work when he was still a teenager; he was mainly self-published, but was also published in mainstream publications like Pulse while still in high school. While his early work was greeted with much acclaim, he faced severe backlash around the time when he made the jump to professional publication, and the letters pages of his modern comics typically feature several highly critical letters in which he is accused of creating "trendy" or "emo" characters. He is often compared to his friend Dan Clowes for his signature clean-line style; in fact, he is sometimes accused of ripping off Clowes' style. In an interview published in The Comics Journal #205, Tomine addressed many of these criticisms and discussed his influences in detail, admitting that he was strongly influenced by Clowes but perhaps even more so by Jaime Hernandez. The cover of his Journal issue featured a self-parody of sorts, featuring a sequence in which a hipster girl says to the reader, "I'm so cute! I listen to indie rock! But... I'm sad. Can you relate?"
In an interview published on the Drawn and Quarterly website, Tomine discussed printing critical letters in his book: "I imagine most cartoonists receive some negative mail. I just thought it was fair (and entertaining) to allow a range of reactions to be heard. And as for my response, it really varies: some criticism I dismiss completely, and some I take to heart."
Most of Tomine's early works rarely mentioned racial issues and most of his characters appeared to be Caucasian. Tomine, who is Asian American, drew himself in many of his early strips, but did not make his ethnicity clear (he often drew his glasses as being opaque, so his eyes couldn't be seen). In later works, he has explored racial issues more directly, such as in his latest graphic novel Shortcomings.
In the '90s, Tomine made an appearance on The Jane Pratt Show, which he documented in Optic Nerve.
Optic Nerve was originally self-published in mini-comic format by Tomine himself, and distributed to local comics shops in his area. Most of the stories were later compiled into a single edition, titled "32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics," published by Drawn and Quarterly.
Serialized Comics 
Optic Nerve 
Optic Nerve is the ongoing series of comics by Adrian Tomine that were originally self-published and are currently published by Drawn and Quarterly. Originally, the self-published comics were in "mini-comic" format, consisting of seven issues (most of them later republished in 32 Stories). After Drawn and Quarterly became the publisher, the comics were published at standard size, and the issue numbering was restarted, making the first Drawn & Quarterly published issue to be numbered #1. These comics range from a few pages per story to the 32-page standard in later issues. Issues 1-4 included several stories each and were collected in Sleepwalk and Other Stories, and issues 5-8 included one story each and were collected in Summer Blonde. Issues 9-11 were compiled into a graphic novel titled Shortcomings, released in September 2007.
Optic Nerve #1 
Issue one contains five stories entitled "Sleepwalk," "Echo Ave.," "Long Distance," "Drop" and "Lunch Break." Published by Drawn and Quarterly in April 1995.
Optic Nerve #2 
Issue two contains four stories entitled "The Connecting Thread," "Summer Job," "Pink Frosting" and "Layover." Published by Drawn and Quarterly in November 1995
"The Connecting Thread" is a story of a young woman convinced that she is being watched from afar by a mysterious admirer who repeatedly places advertisements about her in the "I Saw You" section of her local newspaper.
"Summer Job" tells the experiences of an adolescent named Eric who is employed at a photocopying store for a summer.
"Layover" shows a young man who misses his flight and instead of returning home to people who assume he has caught his flight wanders aimlessly for the whole day.
Optic Nerve #3 
Issue three contains four stories entitled "Dylan & Donovan," "Supermarket," "Hostage Situation" and "Unfaded." Published by Drawn and Quarterly in August 1996.
Optic Nerve #4 
Issue four contains three stories entitled "Six Day Cold," "Fourth of July" and "Hazel Eyes." Published by Drawn and Quarterly in April 1997.
Optic Nerve #5-8 
Summer Blonde is one of Adrian Tomine's most commercially popular collections of comics from his Optic Nerve series. These four stories were originally published individually.
Summer Blonde begins with "Alter Ago", originally published in Optic Nerve #5, which chronicles a promising young author struggling to write a sophomore novel. In the wake of his writer's block, he becomes obsessed with re-connecting with his high school crush, despite currently being in a relationship. His feelings are further complicated when he begins spending time with his crush's teenage sister.
"Hawaiian Getaway", originally published in Optic Nerve #6, is the story of Hilary Chan's evolving circumstances when she finds herself unemployed and with no meaningful social relationships. In order to compensate for these voids, she becomes more eccentric and isolated. The format of the story is unlike the others included in Summer Blonde, as it divided into 13 chapters that separate defining moments in Hilary's life. This format also succeeds in illustrating the protagonist's disconnection from society.
"Summer Blonde", the title story, was first seen in Optic Nerve #7, and is centered on a beautiful young woman named Vanessa who finds herself the object of three men's desires: her boyfriend, a misogynistic lover named Carlo, and Carlo's obsessive and unstable neighbor, Neil.
"Bomb Scare", originally published in Optic Nerve #8, tells the story of two outcast teenagers and the scrutiny that they must endure at the hand of their high school's social hierarchy. "Bomb Scare" was chosen by Dave Eggers to be included in the book "The Best American Non-Required Reading 2002" (Houghton Mifflin).
Optic Nerve #9-11 
Issues nine through eleven contain Optic Nerve's first multiple issue story arc. Issue 9 was published by Drawn and Quarterly in January 2004; Issue 10 in October 2005; Issue 11 in March 2007.
The story was compiled as into a single hardcover edition, titled Shortcomings, by Drawn and Quarterly in September 2007. A second hardcover edition was published in December 2007, and paperback in April 2009.
Optic Nerve #12 
Issue twelve contains two stories. The first, entitled "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as "Hortisculpture"", is composed of several vignettes. The second story is titled "Amber Sweet." Optic Nerve number twelve is the first issue to include interior color. Published by Drawn and Quarterly in September 2011.
Collected works 
- 1998 - 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics (ISBN 1-896597-00-9)
- 1998 - Sleepwalk and Other Stories (ISBN 1-896597-12-2)
- 2002 - Summer Blonde (ISBN 1-896597-57-2)
- 2004 - Scrapbook: Uncollected Work 1990-2004 (ISBN 1-896597-77-7)
- 2005 - New York Sketches 2004 (ISBN 0-9766848-2-9)
- 2007 - Shortcomings (ISBN 978-1-897299-16-6)
- 2011 - Scenes From an Impending Marriage (ISBN 978-1770460348)
- 2012 - New York Drawings (ISBN 978-1770460874)
Other work 
Tomine has worked on several albums, including liner notes and album art for Eels' Electro-Shock Blues, "Last Stop: This Town", "Cancer for the Cure", and End Times, as well as The Softies' album "It's Love" and The Crabs's "What Were Flames Now Smolder".
- "The Shortcomings of Adrian Tomine", Chandler Levack, theVarsity.ca Oct 29, 2007
- "Asian Confusion" (Review of Shortcomings), by Jim Windolf, The New York Times, November 11, 2007
- Melissa Hung (Oct 16, 2002). "Geek Chic". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2006-09-17.
- Touching the Fictional Nerve: Adrian Tomine's "Sleepwalk and Other Stories"
- Adrian Tomine's official website
- Tomine page at Drawn & Quarterly
- Tomine page at lambiek.net
- Nichi Bei Times interview
- Scene Missing Magazine interviews Adrian Tomine
- Hand-written interview with Adrian Tomine from ifpthendirt.
- Comics Reporter: Tom Spurgeon: A short interview with Adrian Tomine
- Adrian Tomine interview (December 2004) for QRD
- Review of Shortcomings @ The Culturatti]
- Tomine interview (Jan 2008) Fresh Air, NPR
- 2011 radio interview (50 minutes) at The Bat Segundo Show
- Ahora: Interview with Adrian Tomine on The New Yorker