EXIT WOUNDS, SHORTCOMINGS make Entertainment Weekly’s Best Of list

Ken Tucker's Top 5

Entertainment Weekly    |    Ken Tucker    |    December 12, 2007

1. Exit Wounds
Rutu Modan
(Drawn & Quarterly)
The Tel Aviv-based artist and writer Modan tells a tale of contemporary Israel through two characters: Koby, a young taxi driver, and Numi, an Israeli soldier. They are linked by the fact that Koby's father, presumed dead in a suicide-bomb attack, was romantically involved with Numi. There is no heavy-handed dissection of the Israel-Palestine conflict here; rather, Modan is interested in crafting a short story about the everyday possibilities of violence, and about the way terror becomes a grinding, constant presence of its own. Her figures are pasty, often pudgy people — intentionally non-comic-strip-heroic-looking — and humans and their background settings (the inside of a cab, small shops, and cramped living quarters) are rendered with minimal lines, inked with pale, fading tints. The result is a triumphant book about not-so-quiet desperation.

4. Shortcomings
Adrian Tomine
(Drawn & Quarterly)
Maybe it's because I enjoyed writer-artist Tomine's critique of a certain kind of contemporary personality — so much clever sarcasm, so much self-absorption, so little engagement with the workaday world — that I was immediately taken with his portrait of Ben Tanaka. Tomine draws Ben the way he does most of his protagonists, with a serenely smooth line and delicate worry lines. Ben is smart, he's a horndog, and he's lonely, which makes him a quietly formidable man. Tomine raises questions of race by having others suggest that his Asian protagonist is more interested in dating non-Asian women, which proves a novel (for a graphic novel, at least) way to provide conflict. But this is not, ultimately, what Shortcomings is about. Look at the title: This is a poignant, dryly funny story of people grappling with their flaws, bending them into strengths, with occasional outbursts of emotions all the more effective for the contrast they offer to the artist's tidy drawings.

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