Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Optic Nerve #12

Panels from "Amber Sweet"
Riding on the tidal wave of DC New 52 first issues and Marvel's Spider Island related comics this week, there was one little easily-overlooked alternative title that is well worth your time and money. Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly, $5.95) was released with little fanfare, but was easily the best comic of the week. Tomine has been producing Optic Nerve for 20 years to much acclaim, and the latest release is an affordable introduction to his work.

I was a huge fan of, and dearly miss, the independent humour/autobio comix of the 90's, and apparently Tomine is, as well. The last two pages of Optic Nerve #12 include a "throwaway" autobio strip in which Tomine is mocked by his peers for sticking with the "floppy format.

A fragment of a two-page strip from Optic Nerve #12

The issue contains two lead stories: "Hortisculpture", in which a gardener tries to combine his work with a dubious form of art, creating friction in his family life, and "Amber Sweet", wherein a young college student must contend with her striking resemblance to an online porn model.

Excerpt from "Hortisculpture"

"Hortisculpture" is presented as a series of daily newspaper comic strips, in black and white for six days with a color Sunday strip. It has a very "Peanuts" vibe to it, if Peanuts were about an overweight, depressive, middle-aged would-be entrepreneur, rather than schoolchildren. "Amber Sweet" is a more traditional, full color narrative. Both small human dramas are told with economy and elegance, complete in this issue. Both are excellent.

Skip Deathstroke and Suicide Squad (both are terrible, nihilistic trash) and treat yourself to Optic Nerve #12 instead!

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