Monday, October 27, 2008

Adrian Tomine is not a sellout

A week and a half ago, Adrian Tomine, creator of the graphic novel Shortcomings and the mini-comic Optic Nerve, spoke at Syracuse University. While I'm not the biggest fan of his work (although I've only read Shortcomings and 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve), I think his is an interesting story, especially from a mini-comic publisher's standpoint.

Tomine first published his mini-comic Optic Nerve while in high school. Tomine said the initial print run of the first issue was about 20 and were distributed to his mom, dad, a few friends and that was about it. Tomine was a big fan of Drawn and Quarterly, and influenced by some of the artists published by D&Q, especially Julie Docet. He sent each issue of Optic Nerve to Drawn and Quarterly in hopes they'd want to publish him, which they eventually did, I believe, four years later.

What I find interesting is that now Tomine is illustrating covers for the New Yorker and although some might feel as if he sold out, working toward a high-profile illustration career has always been his goal. He sent Optic Nerve to D&Q in hopes of being published and later sent illustrations to the New Yorker in hopes of being published. Selling out, to me, would mean initially wanting to keep things DIY/underground and then reneging on this ideal by having your work published or being featured in a large publication.

Tomine has worked hard to get where he is and I'm glad to see he's been successful in achieving his goals.


JB said...

Neither is Bill Griffith for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I never thought A.T. was a sell-out. He's a really good storyteller... and if the New Yorker said to me "You can draw our next cover if you gouge out your kidney", you can bet I'd be hunting around for a scalpel. So me, I'm a sellout. Adrian Tomine, no, not a sellout.