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32 StoriesReview - 32 Stories
The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics
by Adrian Tomine
Drawn & Quarterly, 1998
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Dec 5th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 49)

Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve comics, published by Drawn & Quarterly, provide some of the best depictions of emptiness and the small comfort of human interactions in contemporary America.  It’s revealing but not surprising that he was first inspired to create such comics when he was in high school, since it is well known that high school is for many students an extremely alienating experience.  In the Introduction, Tomine explains why this collection of the first comics he created and self-published are collected together here, and he discusses some of the lessons he learned in his early experiments.  In 97 black and white pages, you see him move from crudely drawn images to the familiar confident lines of his current work, and you can also see some of the themes and styles that make his work so distinctive there below the surface even in the very early work.  He uses factual accounts of his own experiences, and slightly disguised retellings of his own experience, as well as fictional stories, which also ring true.

This little book will be of interest to Optic Nerve fans, and some of the stories, although very short, have their own interest.  But others will not see what all the fuss is about, and for them I’d recommend going straight to the later comics to get a sense of Tomine’s talent for setting a mood and providing a subtle commentary on modern life.  He is undoubtedly one of the best comic book artists working today.

Buy this book from the Comic Publisher

© 2001 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life. He is available to give talks on many philosophical or controversial issues in mental health.


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