AT this point, most enthusiasts of the graphic novel / literary comics know the work of adrian tomine, who i first encountered in his "optic nerve" comic.
when i started reading his stuff, insiders often complained that tomine's drawing was too similar to dan "ghost world" clowes, but he's since gone on to carve out his own turf, whether it's a younger / hipper milieu than the losers who tend to populate clowes' work, his own japanese-american heritage or the often bleak work of early manga master yoshihiro tatsumi, which he has translated.
and tomine's work now shows up on the cover of the new yorker as often as any cartoonist working. i love his understated style and his use of color, but it's the way he captures people who miss connecting with each other -- his influences include raymond carver and tobias wolff -- that makes his work the most affecting.
HERE is the profile i wrote for the LATimes a few years back -- reported from berkeley, where tomine lived at the time.
and here is adrian, a bit later, in a piece abou about tatsumi's work -- which showed him as a kid that comics didnt "have to be about samurais and robots" -- in a piece that concerns the plight of foreign language comics. hint: it's similar to the challenges faced by foreign films or translated literature. (tatsumi's memoir, "a drifting life," was recently reviewed in the NYT's top-gear dwight garner.)
and finally, here is a reported essay on the awkward relationship between comics and the fine arts world.
tomine and the wonderful canadian graphic novelist seth, best known for his retro-cool "palookaville" and "clyde fans" comics and the eerie shades of blue and gray he favors, are currently touring, and will show up at skylight books in LA's los feliz on weds. june 17. these guys are two of the best: dont miss it.
Photo credit: Drawn & Quarterly