OPTIC NERVE 11 reviewed by Metapsychology

“Optic Nerve #11” / Metapsychology / Christian Perring / August 14, 2007

In issue #11 of Optic Nerve, Adrian Tomine finishes the story he started in issue #9 [reviewed in Metapsychology 9:47]. Ben, an Asian-American in his late twenties or possibly early thirties, has left his Berkeley home to visit his girlfriend Miko in New York City, although they are "taking a break" from the relationship. He gets there to find that she is dating someone else. Ben's friend Alice, who has moved to NYC, has found a girlfriend and they are practically living together. Ben is angry and hostile to everyone around him, accusing them of warped motives and dishonesty.

The story is drawn in Tomine's well known style, with crisp clear lines. His exploration of Asian-American life is distinctive and even self-conscious. When Alice starts complaining that her parents still want her to be married and go to medical school, Ben asks her, "What is this... your Margaret Cho routine?"

The story will be published as a book later this year at Shortcomings, at over 100 pages long, which makes it Tomine's most extended story yet. Some of the readers letters published on the inside covers of the comic complain that he is sticking to talking about the life he is familiar with, and suggest he branch out to different subject matter. I'm not sure I agree: he depiction of the indie world of artists in Berkeley and NYC does not get a great deal of coverage in other places, and Tomine does a good job at showing it. Yet it is also true that he is starting to be a little predictable in his style, so it would be good to see some more variation in his next work.

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