Optic Nerve 14 brings Adrian Tomine’s multifaceted, expressive cartooning to a new peak with two stories and a bonus autobiographical strip. “Killing and Dying” is about a father’s struggles to be supportive: it centers on parenthood, mortality, and stand-up comedy. “Intruders” depicts a man obsessively trying to find his way back to a former life by revisiting places he once knew. Optic Nerve 14 will appear on the twentieth anniversary of Tomine’s beloved comic book series, in whose pages the landmark graphic novel Shortcomings was first published. Each story in Optic Nerve 14 reveals new dimensions to Tomine’s unique visual sensibility and complex, character-driven stories.
A new issue of Optic Nerve is a rare and beautiful thing to behold. Adrian Tomine is one of those fancy-pants comic creators who make the bulk of their “money” doing “art” for the “New Yorker” instead of rolling in the fat stacks of cash that exist in the comic book industry. As a result, issues of Optic Nerve occur few and far in-between – but the results are always stunning. Everyone in Optic Nerve seems to be screaming just behind the eyes whether they know it or not, as they claw and attempt to find perfection in flawed worlds. Equally uncomfortable and exquisitely beautiful, this is the event comic I wait each and every year (or two) for.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have stacks of comics in boxes to ignore as I read through this before my store opens.