It’s amazing what “Optic Nerve” creator Adrian Tomine can accomplish in a mere 108 pages, the length of his new graphic novel, “Shortcomings.” His story of Ben Tanaka, an under-employed 30 year old who is grappling with issues of identity in all forms—racial, sexual and, in the largest struggle of all, personal—reads so fluidly that its economy goes unnoticed, except when you finish and find yourself so fully engaged in the story of this circle of friends and lovers that you thirst for more. Tomine is the master of comic-book reality, with an unrivaled command of pacing, narrative and characterization. This is augmented by Tomine’s drawing style: deceptively simple with clean lines and compositions that reward study without retarding pacing. Deceptively simple means far from generic, though; like that of most great cartoonists, a Tomine page is recognizable with a mere glance. (Brian Hieggelke)
Adrian Tomine discusses “Shortcomings” at Quimby’s, 1854 West North, on November 8 at 7pm.