Adrian Tomine (4 stars)

Shortcomings (Faber and Faber)

Adrian Tomine


The fine lines that comprise Adrian Tomine’s expressive monochrome frames may seem spindly, but they hold a weight of meaning. It is the spaces between the action and dialogue that make Tomine’s stories so effective – the pregnant pause, the sigh, the look – the kinds of things that are expressed more effectively in comics than anywhere else outside of cinema.

Shortcomings concerns itself with transitions; between people, places, situations, jobs, lives. Ben, an underachieving cinema manager lives with Miko, an aspirant filmmaker. Miko is drawn away from the worn familiarity of San Francisco to the vivid potential that New York promises. Their tense relationship, along with a complex weave of sub plots, are skilfully plotted and have a domestic atmosphere, similar to that of Daniel Clowes’ excellent Ghostworld. Shortcomings lacks the same kind of propulsive narrative arc perhaps, but concerns itself instead, with the painful detail, which is after all, where the real magic lies.


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