Adrian Tomine: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adrian Tomine
Born May 31, 1974
Sacramento, CA, USA
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Artist
Notable works Optic Nerve

Adrian Tomine (born May 31, 1974), a popular contemporary cartoonist, is best known for his ongoing graphic novel series Optic Nerve and his periodical illustrations in The New Yorker.



Adrian Tomine was born May 31, 1974 in Sacramento, California. His parents divorced when he was two years old. His father is Dr. Chris Tomine, Ph.D. and Professor Emeritus Environmental Engineering at California State University Sacramento's Department of Civil Engineering. His mother is Dr. Satsuki Ina, Ph.D. and Professor Emeritus at California State University Sacramento's School of Education. Tomine is fourth-generation Japanese American, and both of his parents spent part of their childhoods in Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during World War II. [1]. He also has a brother, Dylan, who is eight years his senior.

After his parents divorced, Tomine moved frequently, accompanying his mother to Fresno, Oregon, Germany, and Belgium, while spending summers with his father in Sacramento. He attended high school at Rio Americano in Sacramento, where he started writing, drawing and self-publishing his comic Optic Nerve. Tomine has continued producing Optic Nerve as a regular comic book series for Drawn and Quarterly; the most recent issue was published in 2007.

Tomine graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English Literature. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Sarah Brennan, a longtime New Yorker. On October 31st, 2009, Tomine and Brennan welcomed their first child, Nora Emiko Tomine.

As a young child, Tomine enjoyed Spider-Man and Indiana Jones comics. In an interview, Tomine said that "something about the medium just transfixed me at an early age"[2] and that his influences include Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes. He is also a fan of contemporary Chris Ware. In addition to writing graphic novels such as Summer Blonde, Shortcomings, and Optic Nerve, Tomine regularly works in commercial illustration. He has done several covers and illustrations for The New Yorker; his first was "Missed Connection".

Adrian Tomine is oft-referenced in TV shows and magazines despite his "underground" status. Although he has not achieved the pop-culture recognition of graphic novelists such as Frank Miller, he is nonetheless one of the more well-known and critically acclaimed graphic novelists of our time.


Tomine began publishing his work when he was still a teenager; he was mainly self-published, but was also published in mainstream publications like Pulse while still in high school. While his early work was greeted with much acclaim, he faced severe backlash around the time when he made the jump to professional publication, and the letters pages of his modern comics typically feature several highly critical letters where he is accused of creating "trendy" or "emo" characters. He is often compared to his friend Dan Clowes for his signature clean-line style; in fact, he is sometimes accused of ripping off Clowes' style. In an interview published in The Comics Journal #205, Tomine addressed many of these criticisms and discussed his influences in detail, admitting that he was strongly influenced by Clowes but perhaps even more so by Jaime Hernandez. The cover of his Journal issue featured a self-parody of sorts, featuring a sequence where a hipster girl says to the reader, "I'm so cute! I listen to indie rock! But... I'm sad. Can you relate?"

In an interview published on the Drawn and Quarterly website, Tomine discussed printing critical letters in his book: "I imagine most cartoonists receive some negative mail. I just thought it was fair (and entertaining) to allow a range of reactions to be heard. And as for my response, it really varies: some criticism I dismiss completely, and some I take to heart."

Most of Tomine's early works rarely mentioned racial issues and most of his characters appeared to be Caucasian. Tomine, who is Asian American, drew himself in many of his early strips, but did not make his ethnicity clear (he often drew his glasses as being opaque, so his eyes couldn't be seen). In later works, he has explored racial issues more directly, such as in his latest graphic novel Shortcomings.

In the '90s, Tomine made an appearance on The Jane Pratt Show, which he documented in Optic Nerve.

Serialized Comics


Optic Nerve

Optic Nerve is the ongoing series of comics by Adrian Tomine that were originally self-published and are currently published by Drawn and Quarterly. Originally, the self-published comics were in "mini-comic" form, and there were seven issues (most of them later republished in 32 Stories). After Drawn and Quarterly became the publisher, the comics were published at standard size, and the issue numbering was restarted, making the first Drawn and Quarterly published issue to be numbered #1. These comics range from a few pages per story to the 32-page standard in later issues. Issues 1-4 included several stories each and are collected in Sleepwalk and Other Stories, and issues 5-8 included one story each and are collected in Summer Blonde. Issues 9-11 were compiled into a graphic novel called 'Shortcomings,' released in September 2007.

Optic Nerve #1

The first issue published by Drawn and Quarterly in April 1995 included five short stories entitled "Sleepwalk", "Echo Ave.", "Long Distance", "Drop" and "Lunch Break".

Optic Nerve #2

The second issue contains four stories. "The Connecting Thread" is a story of a young woman convinced that she is being watched from afar by a mysterious admirer who repeatedly places advertisements about her in the "I Saw You" section of her local newspaper. "Summer Job" tells the experiences of an adolescent named Eric who is employed at a photocopying store for a summer. "Pink Frosting" depicts a violent confrontation that takes place after a car accident almost occurs. "Layover" shows a young man who misses his flight and instead of returning home to people who assume he has caught his flight wanders aimlessly for the whole day. This issue was published by Drawn and Quarterly in November 1995.

Optic Nerve #5-8

Summer Blonde is one of Adrian Tomine's most commercially popular collections of comics from his Optic Nerve series. These four stories were originally published individually.

Summer Blonde begins with "Alter Ago", originally published in Optic Nerve #5, which chronicles a promising young author struggling to write a sophomore novel. In the wake of his writer's block, he becomes obsessed with re-connecting with his high school crush, despite currently being in a relationship. His feelings are further complicated when he begins spending time with his crush's teenage sister.

"Hawaiian Getaway", originally published in Optic Nerve #6, is the story of Hilary Chan's evolving circumstances when she finds herself unemployed and with no meaningful social relationships. In order to compensate for these voids, she becomes more eccentric and isolated. The format of the story is unlike the others included in Summer Blonde, as it divided into 13 chapters that separate defining moments in Hilary's life. This format also succeeds in illustrating the protagonist's disconnection from society.

"Summer Blonde", the title story, was first seen in Optic Nerve #7, and is centered on a beautiful young woman named Vanessa who finds herself the object of three men's desires: her boyfriend, a misogynistic lover named Carlo, and Carlo's obsessive and unstable neighbor, Neil.

"Bomb Scare", originally published in Optic Nerve #8, tells the story of two outcast teenagers and the scrutiny that they must endure at the hand of their high school's social hierarchy. "Bomb Scare" was chosen by Dave Eggers to be included in the book "The Best American Non-Required Reading 2002" (Houghton Mifflin).

Collected works

  • 1998 - 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics (ISBN 1-896597-00-9)
  • 1998 - Sleepwalk and Other Stories (ISBN 1-896597-12-2)
  • 2002 - Summer Blonde (ISBN 1-896597-57-2)
  • 2004 - Scrapbook: Uncollected Work 1990-2004 (ISBN 1-896597-77-7)
  • 2005 - New York Sketches 2004 (ISBN 0-9766848-2-9)
  • 2007 - Shortcomings (ISBN 978-1-897299-16-6)

Other work

Tomine has worked on several albums, including liner notes and album art for Eels' Electro-Shock Blues, "Last Stop: This Town", "Cancer for the Cure", and End Times.


  1. ^ Melissa Hung (Oct 16, 2002). "Geek Chic". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2006-09-17. 
  2. ^

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address