The Hour | Isa Tousignant | February 21, 2008
ADRIAN TOMINE EVENT mentioned by the Hour
Guess who's coming to town? It's our favourite self-hating hipster! Or at least that's what critics would have us believe. As soon as I got comic artist Adrian Tomine on the phone from Brooklyn, I had to ask the author of the recently released, incredibly popular and critically acclaimed graphic novel Shortcomings about this line in the press release for his upcoming talk at the Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore: "He'll be presenting a slide show that confronts his critics who accused him of 'hiding' his racial identity behind his glasses." Huh?
"Ha ha! It's because for a long time when I used to draw autobiographical stories and I used to draw myself as a character, I'd draw myself with glasses that were just sort of opaque, empty and white", he says. "There was a lot of silly conjecture that I was maybe trying to disguise my own features. So in the slide show I go through a history of that in cartooning, going all the way back to Robert Crumb and even Charles Schultz - when he drew this character Marcie she just had these opaque little round glasses. That's just a starting point."
Tomine - who's Japanese American, by the way - has made work intertwined with autobiography since the start of his equally famous Optic Nerve series. With Shortcomings, though, his first long-format work, he tried to move away from the genre - a bit.
"It's probably the least directly autobiographical thing that I've done, though it's such a slippery term. It doesn't directly transcribe events or
characters or dialogue from my real life in the way that other stories I've done have. But it's hard for me to think of any sort of fiction that isn't somehow personal, or somehow autobiographical. Though Shortcomings may seem like the most autobiographical, to people who know a bit about me. But that's a sleight of hand."
What else can we expect from the event? General info about how Shortcomings came about, as well as more technical details about Tomine's working process, the process of laying out the pages and designing the book, as well as a Q&A period and a signing. Don't miss it.
Speaking of recent comic production, you should check these out too, most (if not all) of which are purchasable at D+Q:
Fire Away, by Chris von Szombathy
The latest in D+Q's delightful Petits Livres series, this page-popping colour minibook reveals a Vancouver artist whose goofy, pop aesthetic is a pleasure to discover, here for the first time in print. Though transporting in a creatively populated, anthropomorphic, Bell-ish way, I was left searching for content that was more than simply aesthetic.
Milk Teeth, by Julie Morstad
Another Vancouverite's Petit Livre, this delicate book by Morstad is like a lesson in fine etching. The sophistication and refinement of her style are undoubtedly what have made her a popular commercial illustrator around the country. As a book, it's a little jewel that would make the perfect gift to someone with heightened sensibilities.
Paul Goes Fishing, by Michel Rabagliati
This latest translation by D+Q of one of Quebec's top-selling artists is a guaranteed good read, in classic Rabagliati fashion - there's a signature Frenchness and a calming familiarity about all of Paul's Montreal-based adventures that make them a distinct pleasure to consume. They don't reinvent the wheel, but who needs to drive anywhere when life's about fishing?
Albert and the Others, by Guy Delisle
Delisle has created politically charged work in the past, which may be what gives this, and its predecessor Aline and the Others, its incomparable bite. These 30-panel, wordless comics about the trials and tribulations of being a man (Aline was about women) are sharper and funnier than you'd imagine possible.