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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tomine's debut collection, 10 Jun 2010
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sleepwalk (Paperback)
'Sleepwalk' collects sixteen illustrated stories that introduced the world at large to Adrian Tomine's quiet, intense muse. They originally appeared in issues 1 to 4 of the author's comic, 'Optic Nerve', published between 1995 and 1997 by Drawn and Quarterly. (Tomine's earlier self-published strips, which had very limited distribution and have now been republished as 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-comics, are clearly apprentice work and recommended mainly to those who wish to see the full arc of the author's development.)

Tomine, now 36, has gone on to be one of the more highly regarded comic book artists in the US, mentioned in the same breath as Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware. The influence of Clowes on Tomine's work is obvious, as is that of Jaime Hernandez (though Tomine, like Clowes, lacks Hernandez's exuberant humour): but on this evidence Tomine is his own man.

Tomine specialises in oblique views of the lives of ordinary people, often young and poorly integrated, who are living at an angle to a banal and resistant world. (The author's own status as a fourth-generation Japanese-American suggests a certain autobiographical impetus.) His illustrative style is quiet, monochrome and essentially realistic, but telling - very often it's Tomine's pictures that best convey his characters' moods and meaning. By contrast, his narratives are surprising, with surreal touches and hints of Kafkaesque darkness. His complex handling of character seems to be derived as much from contemporary fiction as from influences within the graphic novel tradition. This was an unusually mature first collection.

The stories in 'Sleepwalk' are of uniformly high quality, and rather like Raymond Carver's story fragments they resonate past their endings. This book is the natural place to start for readers new to Tomine, since there is a clear progression in his work from this collection to 'Summer Blonde''s four longer, more ambitious stories and then to the book-length 'Shortcomings'. Readers who wish to judge how far Tomine's work resembles and differs from that of Daniel Clowes are advised to compare 'Sleepwalk' with the latter's Ghost World, written between 1993 and 1997 and published in book form in 1997, the year before Tomine's collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Double Thumbs Up!!, 23 Jun 2013
This review is from: Sleepwalk (Paperback)
This is a collection of short stories from a single artist/ writer. Each is a small fragment of someone's everyday life, with most of them centring on younger people. With this kind of shotgun anthology you probably won't click with all of them but they are amazingly good.

Tomine is an outstanding writer with a definite gift for words. He can evoke real emotion and attachment within the reader in an incredibly small amount of time. The shortest story is just four panels and the longest more than a dozen pages. Each is just long enough to allow you to feel another person's life.

The art is black and grey with a very traditional feel to it. The drawing is plain and honest with nothing fancy to distract you from what is important. Some of the stories could work without the pictures and others rely on them heavily. Both writing and drawing this work Tomine brings a real synchronicity between the two disciplines.

It feels like a Susan Hill anthology; or perhaps even Usagi Yojimbo, as you aren't sure how the stories will end.

Excellent writing, a joy to read, Double Thumbs Up!!
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Sleepwalk by Adrian Tomine (Paperback - 21 Aug 2008)
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