Adrian Tomine's cult comic series Optic Nerve is finally collected into one sharply designed volume. In stories that are appealingly naturalistic, stylishly cinematic and emotionally rich, Tomine portrays the emotional ambivalence of drifting, urban 20-somethings, exhibiting their insecurities with both forensic detachment and surprising compassion.
From the book jacket, I learned that the merit of Tomine's work has been hotly debated. From what I can gather, many of his characters tend to be hipster emo types who bewail lack of meaningful connection with others in their lives. I thought their connections were deeper than that though. I thought Dan Raeburn, who wrote the introduction on the book jacket, summed it up well when discussing the similarity between many of the characters- they are all seeking human connection in an increasingly alienating world. These stories were much more about creating emotion than sparking intellectual thought for me. And I need to create a new word to describe what these stories made me feel. Aching-sympathetic-identification with a touch of thankfulness? That's not quite it, but I think maybe the best I'm going to be able to do.
I enjoyed story "Bomb Scare", regarding the young man who is picked on in school and mocked for exclusively haning out with just one other boy. I drew many similiarities to my own personal 6th grade expereince. The young man's willingness to sell out his friend in hopes of just a chance at increasing his stature with a more popular girl. Hit it right on the mark for me. Reading it today in 2009 in the midst of the second Iraq war, I also found an odd convergence in the way the first gulf war is portrayed. It took the C and C music factory cassette to make me realize we were back in 1991, not 2003.
Overall, a fine group of stories with impressive artwork that brings out the subtle machinations of the character's psychology.