Tag: Optic Nerve

Comics for Grownups Episode 20

by on Aug.06, 2013, under Comics

Comics for Grownups Episode 20 with Alex Rothman is now out on iTunes. Direct RSS link for Android users here. In this episode we are joined by Tom Hart, acclaimed author of many beloved comics and the founder and driving force behind the Sequential Artists Workshop. We talk about SAW and his current project Rosalie Lightning, plus:

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Sammy the Mouse Vol. 2 by Zak Sally

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

Optic Nerve #13 by Adrian Tomine

Lazarus #1 and 2 by Greg Rucka

Finder by Carla Speed McNeil

Abe: Wrong for the Right Reasons by Glenn Dakin

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Optic Nerve #12

by on Oct.03, 2011, under Comics

My favorite part of the new Optic Nerve comes at the very end, after the letters page, in what Adrian Tomine describes asĀ  “a pointless, dashed-off autobio. strip.” It’s a two-page spread that describes the lengths he had to go to get a new issue of the comic into stores. See, nobody in the “serious” graphic novel business wants anything to do with the old monthly magazine trade anymore. The profit margins are too low, and none of the new generation of graphic novel buyers want them anyway. The existence of a “floppy” Optic Nerve is due entirely to Tomine’s nostalgia for the old format and all its ancillary special features. He mentions “the incidental drawings and gags in Eightball, the hand-drawn ‘plugs’ in Yummy Fur, the letters pages in Dirty Plotte” (and I’d add the fake ads in The Acme Novelty Library).

I identify deeply with that nostalgia, and with Tomine’s sense of shock at discovering all those things are gone. Until I read those two little pages I didn’t recognize they were never coming back, either, and now I’m in mourning. I’m sure the brave new internet-let world will develop its own stylistic signatures and quirks, but these were the ones I fell in love with and it’s sad to realize they’re almost gone. Will it still be comics when we lose the ritual of visiting the store every Wednesday to see what’s new?

Appropriately enough, the first of the two longer stories in the issue also revives a dying form, in this case the newspaper comic: six four-panel strips followed by a full-page color spread, with radically simplified figures and a punchline (or something given the weight of a punchline) in the end panel each “day.” Everything has to be conveyed through dialogue, nothing through drawn facial expressions or boxes of narration, which eliminates the reflective mood Tomine’s stuff usually has. It’s unfortunate because the story itself–about a suburban gardener who for years tries and fails to sell his new form of art combining sculpture and living plants–is very much his kind of plot. If he’d allowed himself his usual devices to create and nurture characters I think it would have been stronger.

The second of the two is much more in his usual style, and it works much better. It’s a ten-pager about a young woman who discovers she bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain porn actress, and all the problems that causes her with men throughout her young adulthood. It’s the kind of intimate, minor-key short work that Tomine has always done extremely well, going all the way back to his mini-comics, and seems almost calculated to remind readers of what he used to do in early issues of Optic Nerve, before he made a full issue of Summer Blonde, poured three issues into Homecoming, and tossed off Scenes from an Impending Marriage.

I guess that means all parts of Optic Nerve #12 trade in nostalgia, and I think we can only assume there’s a good chance we never see another magazine-format issue from Tomine again. That makes me even sadder.

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