Adrian Tomine

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Adrian Tomine
Adrian Tomine BBF 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Tomine at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival
Born (1974-05-31) May 31, 1974 (age 41)
Sacramento, California, USA
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Artist
Notable works
Optic Nerve

Adrian Tomine (born May 31, 1974), a popular contemporary cartoonist, is best known for his ongoing comic book series Optic Nerve and his illustrations in The New Yorker.[1]

Early life[edit]

Adrian Tomine was born May 31, 1974 in Sacramento, California.[2] 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.[3] 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.[citation needed] Tomine has continued producing Optic Nerve as a regular comic book series for Drawn & Quarterly; the most recent issue was published in May 2015.

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"[4] 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,[5] Tomine regularly works in commercial illustration. He has done several covers and illustrations for The New Yorker; his first was "Missed Connection".

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.[citation needed]


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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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 love coffee, and 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."[citation needed]

Most of Tomine's early works rarely mentioned racial issues, and most of his characters appeared to be Caucasian.[citation needed] 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).[citation needed] In later works, he has explored racial issues more directly, such as in his latest graphic novel Shortcomings.

In the 1990s, 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.

Optic Nerve is the ongoing series of comics by 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 through 11 were compiled into a graphic novel titled Shortcomings, released in September 2007.

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".

In 2015, Tomine's graphic novel Killing and Dying, a collection of six short graphic stories, was released.[6]

Collected works[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kaneko, Mina (November 11, 2012). "Adrian Tomine’s New York". The New Yorker. 
  2. ^ Adrian Tomine (2002). 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics. Drawn and Quarterly. p. 99. ISBN 9781896597003. 
  3. ^ Melissa Hung (Oct 16, 2002). "Geek Chic". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2006-09-17. 
  4. ^ Sinclair, Mark (March 13, 2009). "Q&A: Adrian Tomine". Creative Review. 
  5. ^ Windolf, Jim (November 11, 2007). "Asian Confusion". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Rollman, Hans (20 October 2015). "In 'Killing and Dying', Drama Is Hidden Between the Lines of Profile Art and Dialogue". PopMatters. 

External links[edit]