Adrian Tomine is a widely acclaimed cartoonist and New Yorker cover artist, and his ongoing comic Optic Nerve and collected graphic novels represent one of the most definitive artistic statements from the medium's last twenty years.
Praise for Adrian Tomine
Killing and Dying
“Adrian Tomine can draw, think, write and feel. He sees everything, he knows everything; he’s in your apartment, he’s on the subway, he’s in your dreams. He knows about aging baseball fans and delusional horticulturists, he knows hapless fathers and awkward nerd-girl stand-ups, he knows the single and the married, the mad and the sane, knows when to use a speech a bubble and when silence is enough. He has more ideas in twenty panels than novelists have in a lifetime.” Zadie Smith
“As a serious cartoonist, one secretly hopes to create “That Book”: a book that can be passed to a literary-minded person who doesn’t normally read comics; one that doesn’t require any explanation or apology in advance and is developed enough in its attitude, humanity and complexity that it speaks maturely for itself... Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying may finally be That Book, and I’m amazed and heartened by it.” Chris Ware
“Tomine may be my favorite comics artist—deft and subtle, with a bittersweet understanding of the tension between aspiration and loss...Moving, sharply rendered, these are comics where the real action takes place between the lines.” Los Angeles Times
“Tomine’s lines are so clean and precise, his compositions so natural-looking, that it’s easy to treat his images as transparent vessels of meaning, the cellophane wrapper enfolding the tart, bright candy of the plot. But even his smallest, plainest panels are heavy with subtext, thick with unstated emotion and full of the kind of information that can never quite be conveyed in language.” New York Times Book Review
“The question looming is: What are we doing with our lives?’ Tomine offers no easy answers, but his virtuosic touch enriches the exploration.” Max Winter, The Boston Globe
“Tomine has created a deft, deadpan masterpiece filled with heartache interspersed with the shock of beauty.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Imagine Raymond Carver’s writing sensibilities overlaid with Edward Hopper’s art (or vice versa) and the end result might be Adrian Tomine’s graphic short stories: they are serious literature in a graphic form. Tomine’s work is spare yet dense and every image and word counts. His new collection brings together six interconnected, yet stylistically diverse stories.” Phoenix New Times
“One of art comics’ most revered talents returns with his latest collection of emotionally haunting tales of American life. Think the best of what '90s independent cinema was going for, but with better a better aesthetic.” Details.com
“…Every panel is crisp, almost painfully clean in its rendering, and evocative of the emotions it doesn't actually show." Douglas Wolk, Artforum
“One of the most masterful cartoonists of his generation, 32-year-old Adrian Tomine's [Shortcomings] centers on Asian-American protagonist Ben Tanaka, a lonely, socially constricted man, longing to make a connection and spinning in the purgatory between youth and adulthood... equal parts poignant, hilarious, and sad.” Village Voice
“His panels are exceptionally easy to read, combining the precision of line drawings with the gentle pacing of art-house film. The facial expressions and gestures are subtle, and they stand out against the storefronts of Berkeley and Brooklyn, N.Y., which he renders with uncanny fidelity, down to the old light fixtures of Chinese restaurants that have since been remodeled. His dialogue is sharp and true whether he’s portraying a squabble in a dive bar or the negotiations that precede a kiss.” Salon
“Tomine accomplishes in one panel of this graphic novel what so many writers have failed to do in entire books. In crisp spare lines, he captures in all its excruciating, disappointing absurdity a single moment and makes from it our world.” Junot Diaz, Publishers Weekly
“Tomine's genius is to strip his medium of every possible type of grandiosity or indulgence, and the result is that life itself floods in. His mise-en-scene rivals Eric Rohmer's in its gentle precision, and his mastery of narrative time suggests Alice Munro. Shortcomings, as near as he'd get to a grand statement, is as deceptively relaxed and perfect as a comic book gets.” Jonathan Lethem
Adrian Tomine Biography
Adrian Tomine was born May 31, 1974 in Sacramento, California. Optic Nerve, Tomine's ongoing comic title, was originally self-published for seven issues in mini-comic form beginning in 1991 when he was a teenager in high school.
Publisher Drawn and Quarterly began publishing the comic book format Optic Nerve in 1995, when Tomine was only 20, and released the collection 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics in 1995. Issues #1-4 of the Drawn and Quarterly published Optic Nerve were collected in the book Sleepwalk and Other Stories (1997), and issues #5-8 included were collected in the book Summer Blonde (2002). Scrapbook: Uncollected Work, 1994-2004 was published in 2004, and issues #9-11 of Optic Nerve were compiled into the heralded graphic novel Shortcomings in 2007, which was widely praised in such publications as The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle, and in a rave review by Nick Hornby in The New York Times Book Review, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His book Scenes from an Impending Marriage was released in 2011, and in 2015, Tomine's graphic novel Killing and Dying, was released to wide critical acclaim, winning The Story Prize Spotlight Award.
In addition to his comics and graphic novels, Tomine is a prominent illustrator whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Time. Since 1999, he has been a regular contributor to the New Yorker, and his first cover for the publication, "Missed Connection," 2004, is one of the most reproduced images in the magazine’s recent history, also serving as the cover illustration for his book New York Drawings (2012). Tomine has also drawn several album covers for bands including Yo La Tengo, Eels, Luna, Dance Hall Crashers, The Softies, and The Crabs.
His comics have been anthologized in publications such as McSweeney’s, The Best American Comics, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and his original artwork has been exhibited at Galerie Martel in Paris and at the Oakland Museum of California.
Tomine lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and daughters.
Biography adapted from information on the website of Tomine's publisher, Drawn & Quarterly.