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‘New Yorker’ illustrator, graphic novelist Adrian Tomine to speak at Syracuse University Oct. 16
‘New Yorker’ illustrator, graphic novelist Adrian Tomine to speak at Syracuse University Oct. 16September 11, 2008Rob Enslinrmenslin@syr.edu
Syracuse Symposium and The Soling Program will present “An Evening With Adrian Tomine” Thursday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Watson Auditorium of the Light Work/Community Darkrooms (316 Waverly Avenue) on the Syracuse University campus. The award-winning cartoonist and illustrator will discuss and show images from his best-selling graphic novel “Shortcomings” (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007).
The event is free and open to the public. Paid parking is available in the Marion Lot (intersection of Walnut and Waverly avenues) and in the Booth Garage (Comstock Avenue, between Waverly Avenue and Marshall Street).
Known for his signature clean style, Tomine is a widely sought-after artist whose work has graced the covers of The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, RollingStone and Time. He also is a prolific graphic novelist. “Shortcomings,” his most ambitious work to date, tells the story of Ben Tanaka, a grumpy Japanese-American living in Berkeley, Calif., who leaves his Asian-American girlfriend to date “white” American girls in New York. “[Ben] is self-deluded and blind to a lot of things, but, unlike a lot of people, he’s as honest as he’s capable of being,” Tomine recently told New York magazine. “A lot of his story points out that … all the political stances and pontificating fall a distant second to whomever strikes your fancy.”
Featuring racially charged, volatile dialogue, “Shortcomings” is a rarity among Tomine’s work and literary comics, in general. The novel earned a solo review in The New York Times Book Review, drawing literary comparisons to Philip Roth, and was selected as a “Notable Book for 2007.” It also topped many bestseller lists, including those for Amazon, Entertainment Weekly and Publisher’s Weekly. “Tomine’s genius is to strip his medium of every possible type of grandiosity or indulgence, and the result is that life, itself, floods in,” writes novelist Jonathan Lethem, evoking comparisons with filmmaker Eric Rohmer and author Alice Munro. Adds New Yorker critic Dan Raeburn: “[Tomine’s] stories are appealingly naturalistic, stylishly cinematic and emotionally rich.”
Like his protagonist in “Shortcomings,” Tomine is a 30-something Japanese-American who made the move from California to New York. But that’s where the comparison ends. In addition to being happily married, Tomine sports a thriving international career. His semi-autobiographical “Optic Nerve” comics series, which he began writing and drawing as a teenager in Sacramento, remains a bestseller for Drawn and Quarterly (D+Q), publishers of literary comics and art books. Many of these early comics, including ones Tomine created as a 17-year-old for Tower Records’ in-store magazine, have been collected in book form: “32 Stories” (D+Q, 1998) and “Sleepwalk and Other Stories” (D+Q, 1998). His extensive illustration and design career, which began while a student at the University of California, Berkeley, is summed up thus far in “Scrapbook” (D+Q, 2004). “Shortcomings” is arguably his finest work.
“There’s this certain level of intimacy that some of my readers seem to feel comfortable with,” Tomine said in a recent Mother Jones interview. “I think there’s just something about the nature of the medium. It creates this illusion of intimacy just because it’s a work that’s created completely by one person, and it’s digested or read in isolation. It’s not like sitting in a movie theater with a hundred other people and all laughing at the same moments.”
Syracuse Symposium, whose theme this year is “migration,” is a semester-long intellectual and artistic festival that is presented by The College of Arts and Sciences for the SU community. More information on lectures, performances, exhibits and other special events is available at http://syracusesymposium.org.
The Soling Program is a University-wide program, administered by The College, emphasizing experiential, collaborative and interdisciplinary learning. More information is available at http://soling.syr.edu.