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.