Adrian Tomine | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Adrian Tomine 

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Though he just turned 30, Adrian Tomine is an old hand at cartooning. As a teenager in 1991 he started xeroxing his Optic Nerve comic book in print runs of 25 to be dropped off at Sacramento bookstores. At 17 he had a regular strip in Tower Records' Pulse! magazine, and by 1994 Optic Nerve was being published by Drawn & Quarterly. Since then Tomine has inspired a kind of cult fandom similar to that of his peers (and friends) Dan Clowes and Chris Ware, to whom his work is inevitably compared. Many of Tomine's characters are lonely weirdos and misfits, socially inept and awkward, self-conscious and self-pitying. Desperate losers, they're victims of their insecurities and romantic missteps, subject to the pains of unpopularity and unrequited and misguided love. Tomine's spare yet expressive line drawings are the perfect fit for his darkly humorous, bittersweet tales--he calls them "personal stories in comics"--and even the wordless strips come off like beautiful, melancholy poems. Tomine is in town this week to promote his new Scrapbook: Uncollected Work, 1990-2004 (Drawn & Quarterly), a collection of comics done outside the Optic Nerve series including rejected pieces, commercial illustrations for the likes of Details and the New Yorker, album covers and posters, and sketches never intended for publication. He'll discuss Scrapbook and sign his other D & Q titles at 7:30 PM on Thursday, June 17, at Borders Books & Music, 2817 N. Clark, 773-935-3909.

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