I’ve been a fan of cartoonist Adrian Tomine for many years now, his collection ‘Summer Blonde’ counts among my favourite graphic novels. However, the man is extremely un-prolific , with only a pitiful 12 issues of ‘Optic Nerve’ having been published since 1995.
I didn’t even know this new book was coming out until I saw it for sale on an online bookshop but ordered it immediately. It is a fancy big hardback containing a large amount of Tomine’s work from the last 10 or so years.
It begins with a short black-and-white autobiographical comic similar to the one that ended ‘Optic Nerve 12’, which is absolutely hysterical. Unfortunately, the rest of the book contains very few comics, you could probably count them on one hand.
The majority is taken up with illustrations taken from ‘The New Yorker’. These can be mostly divided into three categories. Illustrations to accompany articles, mostly film reviews, general drawings of people and things seen around New York City, and larger pictures for covers that contain a hint of a story. Of these, the latter are all undoubtedly the best. There are also some other odds and ends, including a large drawing of Batman!
An odd publication decision has been made with it though. Most of the pictures are printed in what I think is their original size, and so do not take up the whole page. However, aside from the title and original source, no notes are given about the picture beside it, but at the back of the book are several pages of notes by Tomine giving details and insight about each illustration. I found myself looking through the book with one hand marking the notes pages and the other the picture pages, constantly flicking back and forth between the two.
There’s a lot of great work to be found in ‘New York Drawings’, but really, I’d much rather have a new graphic novel from Adrian Tomine than an art book.