Adrian Tomine is one of the most enchanting and amazing cartoonists. Optic Nerve is so beautiful and heart-wrenching in its beautiful faint lines and mundane moments and quiet cynicism. Up until today, I would think that the high regard I hold for his work would prohibit a critical reading of his latest release.
Now that my drawn out declaration of adoration is complete, please empathize with me as I decry Tomine’s latest work, Scenes from an Impending Marriage, to be boring and uninspired. A fucking snore, to be precise.
I won’t be overly harsh, as I acknowledge that this book was only intended to be a wedding favor for guests. It was written for a captive and loving audience who was present to enjoy the fruits of their anguish. The book is an insiders joke, but without a punchline. I cry foul to whoever suggested that Tomine shovel this autobiographical drivel in to eager hands of adoring fans.
There is one highlight that made me smile:
That’s right, a single panel on page 29 drawn in the style of Charles Schultz made me smile. (Yes, this means that the best scene in the book made me want to crack open a different book.) The remaining panels are rich with moments of economic and social privilege countered with pandering liberal guilt, bookended with more boring anecdotes to leave me uninspired and annoyed.
A hero fallen? I wouldn’t go that far. I will take this disappointment, ball it up into a mini hate missile, and launch it at the entire wedding industry. Even Tomine’s beautiful sketches cannot make the beauty-salon-ritual, DJ-picking, honeymoon-booking, guest-list-building-exercise tolerable.
I close with a challenge. If you are a cartoonist who has a story of your wedding or commitment ceremony, I dare you to share the story of your nuptials. Until proven otherwise, I am writing off Scenes from an Impending Marriage as proof that comics of this genre should never be made.
Today, I am thankful for:
1. Fantagraphics new release, Castle Waiting, volume 2.
2. Seattle snOMG, which gave me three additional days at home.
3. The Daria Complete DVD set, which has allowed me to reconnect to my high school disdain.
4. My college education, which has allowed me to critically examine this holiday and wonder how different it may feel if we lived in peace with First Nation people.
5. You guys.
I don’t need to pontificate on the number of ways Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series is awesome and amazing and rad, right? I mean, Scott P., amirite? So good. Edgar Wright handled the series with finesse, and wisely included Bryan in the production of the film. It shows. It’s a glorious film, destined to be a cult classic for years and years and years.
Like a good nerd, I went to the midnight release at a local theater. And like a bad nerd, I pre-ordered the Blu-Ray version of the movie on Amazon eons ago. (Sorry local retailers! Really! But there aren’t any stores that sell DVDs in my area.)
LOOK WHAT SHOWED UP TODAY! WOOOOOOOOT!
Cubee Craft Scott totes approves.
Have you read the acclaimed and beloved Love and Rockets series by Los Bros Hernandez? Of course you have. (And if you haven’t, rectify that immediately. Now.)
I have had to defend my love of the series to many people. Some critics find Luba’s…er…enhancements debasing and sexist. Others think the overarching heteronormativity is lame. While I don’t argue that the series is perfect, I’d counter that life isn’t either. Though Love and Rockets is a fictional series, there are moments of naked truth and honest emotion and cultural discourse within the pages. And while Los Bros have a multitude of talents, but I’d argue that Jaime’s writing of complex and nuanced female characters is one of the series strongest qualities.
My evidence for the quality is personal. Every time I read a story with Maggie in it, I cringe with an intimate awareness of her personality flaws. Every poor relationship decision she makes, every weight fluctuation, every time she surprises people with her rage, and every time she shows her strength, I see myself. Try as I might, I’ll never be a Hopey. I’ll never be as carefree or pixieish or fun as she is, but that is okay. Through Jaime’s cartooning I see that both are equally awesome.
From my perspective, any time a cartoonist (or artist or writer or photographer, ad infinitum) can capture the dynamic and chaotic nature of a character, while giving the reader the space for self-reflection and identification deserves hearty praise. I read these characters as if Jaime has spent many years with them, spending immense time to color their character flaws and beauty, indicating he is a cartoonist who has definitely observed cared for an awesome and flawed Latina from around the way.
If art can reflect life that reflects art, I declare that greatness is achieved.