"Southern California gets a chilly treatment in the frames of Adrian Tomine's comics. The four stories here, collected from his ongoing Optic Nerve series, are populated by teenagers and twentysomethings in no danger of ever feeling too popular or comfortable with themselves. Hillary, an operator for a mail-order catalogue, loses her job and begins making prank phone calls. Neil buys reams of birthday cards in the vain hope of one-day speaking to the woman behind the counter. Tomine's artwork is understated, and crisp and precise in piecing together the Bay Area settings. While each story is well observed and carefully paced, it's the final one that hints at what Tomine could do with his next larger work. Set during the first Gulf war, "Bomb Scare" tracks the strained high-school friendship between a loser and a party girl and ends on a page of such quiet emotional grace it almost warms up everything that's come before."