Thursday, September 8, 2011

Optic Nerve #12

by Adrian Tomine

I know everyone in comics land is very excited about DC's 'New 52', but finding the new issue of Optic Nerve in my pull-file was my big thrill of the week.  I'll confess from the start - I never read this title before, but did read Shortcomings, which was collected from the most recent issues (most recent meaning several years old).

This issue has two stories, and a two-page strip.  The first story, 'A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture', is told as a series of four-panel comic strips, with every seventh chapter being a full page in colour, evoking newspaper strips.  It's about a gardener who comes across the idea of marrying traditional sculpture with plants, having them grow within the structure, and spread out through various openings.  The comparison to Chia Pets is made early on, although I kept waiting for someone to discuss bonsai.

Unfortunately, Harold's bold new art form doesn't take off the way he'd hoped, and over a course of about six years, we follow his (and his wife's) growing frustration.  This story is quite funny, but also speaks to the inherent misery of the creative process when it is not recognized or appreciated.

The second story, 'Amber Sweet', is about a woman with more than a passing resemblance to an Internet porn star.  This association, made by fellow college students, boyfriends, and random people on the street, has a deleterious and lasting affect on the young woman's life, and when she finally meets the real Amber, we would expect that anger to rear its head.  What really happens is much more interesting of course.  This story is fully coloured, and drawn in a much more expansive style than Hortisculpture.

Taken together, we see that Tomine continues to be a master observer of relationships and the human condition.  The book is completed with a self-deprecating two-page strip about Tomine's own defense of the 'floppy' format of comics.  This book isn't actually coming out in most stores until next week (my store has a hook-up I suspect), and you won't find anything better on the shelves.  Pick it up.

1 comment:

Vee (Scratch) said...

I just wanted to say that I appreciate the byline of your blog. People definitely are really good about complaining about things that they do not like. Many people love to complain b*tch about Tomine's work.

I'll just sit back and enjoy his work.