Optic Nerve #12 – Review
In a world where indie comic creators have migrated to hardcover editions, Adrian Tomine has chosen to go against the grain and continue releasing his indie comics on the floppy format, and after four years, Optic Nerve #12 has finally been released. With this issue, Tomine has shown that not only does Tomine still got it, but he's at the top of his game. With two very compelling short stories, a great letters page, and even a dashed-off autobio, Adrian Tomine has released what I believe is the best comic released in 2011 thus far.
With the Summer buzz coming to an end, as well as the beginning of The New 52 and many Ultimate Comics series, Optice Nerve #12 really changes the pace from what's been hitting the stands lately, but with Tomine's masterful storytelling, you can't help but keep turning the pages and just finishing off this 40 page comic. While there are two different stories in the comic, it's hard to choose which I liked more. They were both just that good.
The first story is titled "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as 'Hortisculpture'," and this tale revolves around your average, everyday gardener named Harold who decides to attempt selling his artwork -- atrocious sculptures with plants growing through them -- which he cleverly names hortisculptures (more widely known as Chia Pets). With such a simple story, sprinkled with perfect comedic execution, Tomine develops a character in Harold that everyone can relate to and care for. Not only does he develop Harold as a character, but Tomine also is able to discuss the struggles and thoughts of a modern-day artist, including sadness, daydreams, and acceptance of the real world. The artwork for "Hortisculpture" was also as unique as the story, as Tomine illustrated it as a collection of daily comic strips one would see in the newspaper (including six 4-panel black and whites comics, followed by the full-color Sunday strip). This felt perfect for the feel of the story, considering how ridiculous the concept was. All in all, this short was flawless.
The second and shorter tale presented to us is titled, "Amber Sweet," which is about a young woman who's looks strikingly resemble that of a porn star named Amber Sweet. While the premise sounds like it may be funny as well, this short has a much more somber tone than Hortisculpture did. The resemblance between our protagonist and the adult star not only ruins her relationships with people, but it also ruins a majority of her life. While I don't want to give away too much I will say that the ending is extremely satisfying, well worth the read, and a great counterbalance to the ridiculous first story of this comic. The artwork in this issue, once again, is amazing. Tomine goes full-color in Amber Sweet, and it was definitely the right decision. The drawings and coloring for this issue is gorgeous, and it complemented the story greatly.
After these two stories and a hilarious letters page, Tomine finished Optic Nerve #12 a dashed-off autobiography, discussing his decision to keep on releasing floppies, instead of converting over to hardcover like many of the indie comic writers have done as of late. While the autobio is funny and extremely witty, it really shows what a risk Tomine is taking by continuing releasing floppies, as opposed to the more expensive hardcovers, but I'm glad he took the risk. Tomine is gold, and if he keeps releasing floppies like Optic Nerve #12, as well as the rest of the Optic Nerve series, I'm sure he won't have a problem finding his audience and paying the bills. I can't wait for the next issue -- let's just hope it doesn't take four more years!