Optic Nerve #10 summarized by NB's HERE

“Nervous optics” / Here NB / Bernard C. Cormier / November 18, 2005

A graphic novel/comic book review of Optic Nerve#10

The comic review this week is different from those printed in the past. The difference is that the subject, Optic Nerve#10, has all of the stereotypical physical dimensions of a traditional comic book: same size, same amount of pages.

Written by Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve#10 will eventually be branded as a "graphic novel" because this issue is the second chapter of a 3- part story. Later, the whole story will be available as a reprint in book form. From that point on, it will likely cease to be known as a comic by intellectuals and book vendors. It will only be identified as a graphic novel.

Revealing spoilers in this review is not an issue because it is a single chapter in a story of a pre-determined length.

The Summary:

The setting is Berkeley, California.

Thirty-year-old movie theatre manager Ben Tanaka decides to attend a concert performance of Autumn Phelps and her band.

Autumn, who is twenty-two, is one of his newest employees. The combination of music and nude people doing handstands overwhelms Ben.

Secretly, Ben is attracted to Autumn.

Later, he discusses that situation with his lesbian friend Alice Kim.

Alice tells him that he needs to make a move in the near future or it will not go anywhere.

Ben's problems are more complicated because he is still on friendly terms with his ex-girlfriend Miko Hayashi. Miko, who is 31 years of age, is attending film school in New York.

One Evening, Ben is invited into Autumn's apartment after walking her home. She shows him a wall with Polaroid photographs. The subject of each photo is her toilet filled with her urine. There is one photo for each calendar day since January. Her plans for the 'Pee-Photo' collection are for a future art exhibition.

While at Autumn's apartment, Ben tries to kiss her. She declines because of germs.

Ben (while talking to a friend): "So she'll writhe around on stage with a bunch of naked creeps, and she'll take photos of her piss everyday, but kissing me… apparently that's too disgusting for her!" To cheer up Ben, Alice invites him to join her at a party. Most of the people attending are lesbians. Of course, the odds are against him for finding a woman at the party. Sure, bad odds but Ben beats them. Ben meets a lovely bisexual woman named Sasha Lenz.

On their way home, Alice privately tells Ben that Sasha is bad news. Ben reveals to her that he has low self-esteem related to prejudice and stereotypes towards his race. He is Asian.

One day, Sasha visits Ben at his place of work. They begin to spend time together by going to places and doing various things. After awhile, Ben invites Sasha to his apartment. Things get heated in a lustful way. By the end of her visit, Ben ceases to be a virgin.

Later, Alice tells Ben that she has quit university. He is invited to join her as she moves to New York in search of more opportunities.

She is leaving on Tuesday. Meanwhile, safety inspectors for seismic repairs temporarily close the movie theatre. On top of that, Sasha dumps him for unspecified reasons. Also, Miko has not returned any of Ben's recent telephone calls to her.

Ben's life has taken a nosedive.

Suddenly, Alice calls from New York. She tells him to go to New York because there is something he must see... The Specifics The story is very realistic with exaggerated sections placed for humor. It generated enough interest in me to justify a search for #11 when it is published.

As for the artwork: excellent!

The facial expressions and body language express the appropriate emotions in relation to what is happening at that point in the story.

The issue does not contain violence. However, it does contain nudity and language that may be offensive to some people.

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly 3/3

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer, broadcaster, and filmmaker.

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