East Bay Express Tomine Profile

Geek Chic

East Bay Express    |    Melissa Hung    |    October 16, 2002

On a tepid Friday morning a little before noon, Adrian Tomine begins his biweekly trek to the post office from a Berkeley apartment that he seldom leaves. He moves past the shops of his neighborhood with a slightly mechanical gait and hunched posture -- the result, perhaps, of sitting at a drawing board all day and often late into the night.

Tomine is the creator of Optic Nerve, an alternative comic book filled with tales of alienation, lost opportunities, and longing in the lives of ordinary people who appear well-adjusted but who, beneath the surface, are lonely and desperate to connect with others. Illustrated in a stark, realistic style, his stories are built on elements opposite to those of action films. There is little plot, no glamour, and drama only of the highly emotional kind.

But while it might not go over in Tinseltown, Optic Nerve is among the best-selling titles in the insular world of alternative comics. Tomine (pronounced Toe-mee-neh) has drawn Optic Nerve for more than a decade, amassing a panoply of characters crippled by isolation: the outsiders, the loners, the heartbroken.

Comic artist Adrian Tomine made himself a winner by appealing to the loser in all of us.

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