KILLING AND DYING by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly), 125 pages. $26.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN
Graphic novelist Adrian Tomine expands his range considerably in this exquisite collection of stories, each with a distinct look and mood.
In the opening story, a feckless gardener comes up with a bizarre idea for an art project, even though no one supports him. The intentionally lightweight presentation - mostly four-panel comics leading to a punchline - helps the tragicomic material go down easier.
Translated, From The Japanese is an evocative, experimental work about a mother, her child and the child's father. Instead of seeing any of the characters full-on, we're given the narrator's poetic point of view in imagery that shows you what she's feeling.
And the most memorable tale, Go Owls, chronicles the dysfunctional relationship between two recovering addicts. The abusive, arrogant male character is so charismatic that you almost understand how the woman is drawn to him. And as always, Tomine can show you with a character's tilted head or blank stare what they're not saying.
This is must reading for graphic novel fans as well as anyone who enjoys subtle, nuanced fiction.
See cover story interview with Tomine here