summerblonde_whiteborder on a Smart Blonde

TIME.comix on a smart blonde

TIME Magazine    |    TIME.comix    |    July 2, 2002

Some people hate Adrian Tomine's work. All they see are cute girls and angsty-guys in short, enigmatic portraits of the West Coast's slowly-aging Generation X. But they don't get it.

The dust jacket, with its cut-out circle that lets a pretty girl peek through, should clue you in on how to read these stories: look underneath.

What makes Tomine's work difficult for some is the naturalism. He tells stories that feel more like short exposures of ordinary people's lives, rather than plot-heavy adventures or overt comedy. These stories don't begin and end so much as fade in and out.

Each story reveals the secret life of the sad and alienated. If anything, the book can be criticized for a kind of thematic stasis. Each story feels like different versions of the same thing. But for some, that thing is their life.

Tomine's drawings cap the naturalist style of the stories. He goes strictly for realism, using a fine pen to get all the details. You can even read the menu board behind the coffee counter.
...Tomine has a real talent for easy comix storytelling.

It would be too bad if the ambiguity and sadness of "Summer Blonde" scared you off. Adrian Tomine won't entertain you with a lot of snappy tricks. He's on to something that other comix artists haven't captured — a slacker generation growing older but not wiser.

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