I first came across Adrian Tomine’s work with his graphic novel Summer Blonde. It was just on display one day at the library and I picked it up because it looked interesting and I thought, hmm, I wonder if this author is Asian? And sure enough, he is! Fourth generation Japanese-American to be exact. If I recall, Summer Blonde had a sadness to it, which really appealed to me.
I am now working my way through Killing and Dying and wanted to make a post right away here on RAD because from the onset, there are already a bunch of diverse characters, including African-Americans and Asians. Plus, Tomine’s style is very specific and I find to be rather artful. He does work for the New Yorker, for crying out loud! But everyone’s a critic, so you may or may not like his illustration style. This collection of stories are all independent of one another, so it’s nice to be able to put the book down after completing one story. The first involves an inter-racial couple (a Caucasian man and an African-American woman) and his ambition to start a new career in creating plant art. The second story features a young woman who is continuously mistaken for an online porn star.
His illustration style is much more realistic and less cartoonish than Gene Luen Yang’s, but the two complement each other (since I’m reading both their work at the same time right now) as they deal with issues of the ordinary and extra-ordinary.