Panels on Optic Nerve #14: "always a treat"

“Optic Nerve #14 by Adrian Tomine (Dave Accampo)” / Panels / Becca Sexton / June 2, 2015

A new issue of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve is always a treat — and an especially rare one these days. I know I was still living in Los Angeles when the last issue came out, so we’re talking at least a year and a half ago. But, all is forgiven with each issue because (a) these recent issues contain stand-alone short stories and (b) Tomine is a master of the craft, so it’s always worth it. The new issue features two short stories. The first is about a daughter who wants to take a stand-up comedy class. Told almost entirely in 20-panel grids (!!!), Tomine paints a snapshot of several months in the life of a small family, they two parents care for and cater to a daughter, even as a tragic illness seeps its way into their lives. The second story focuses on a man who uses an old set of spare keys to revisit a house he’s left behind. But rather than lapse into a familiar tale of the ghost of a past life, Tomine smartly shifts focus, making the protagonist the haunter (though not in a supernatural sense), his interactions rife with a deep, simmering anger. It’s also worth mentioning the letters page, which Tomine always includes, because he’ll include all kinds of letters, even to his detriment, without answering them. The result is a kind of intentional unintentional comedy, as awkward as many of Tomine’s characters. And hey, Love & Rockets’ Jaime Hernandez even makes an appearance in the letters column, where he… mentions the letters column.

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