Monday, November 26, 2007

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine

Some of you are going to get all scared since this is a graphic novel aka a comic book but I've believed since the mid-80's that there are some graphic novels that are as literate and as sophisticated as any traditional novel. If you haven't already, open your minds some. There's some great stuff being produced in this genre. However, those looking to make their first foray into the graphic novel world might do well to look elsewhere than Shortcomings but it is certainly worth a read.

Tomine has always done stories that are like eavesdropping on someone's private life and usually that private life is in a downward spiral. The main character in Shortcomings is Ben Tanaka, a Japanese-American, whose relationship with his girlfriend, Miko, falls apart before our eyes. Ben is an almost unredeemable character-self-absorbed, self-involved, self-pitying, petty, pretentious--the list goes on. He's lucky to have anyone in his life, let alone a girlfriend. It is almost painful at times to watch as Ben undoes nearly everything he might have going for him but you know he can do nothing else. As ever, Tomine's lines are sharp, his humor black, and his characterizations keen.

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