Park Slope resident Adrian Tomine, 36, made his way into the world of comics when he was only a teen in Sacramento, California, self-publishing his cult comic book series Optic Nerve. The series still lives on today, but since then Tomine has added a laundry list of other accomplishments to his resume: a slew of New Yorker covers, a string of critically acclaimed graphic novels, and more recently, fatherhood.
We caught up with Tomine to talk comics and Park Slope.
Your new graphic novel, Scenes from an Impending Marriage, just came out in February, what’s the story behind it?
When my wife and I got married, I made a small Xeroxed comic book about the events leading up to our marriage, and we gave it out as a "wedding favor." It was something of a departure from my usual work, and it was only intended to be seen by our closest friends and family. People responded to it more than I expected, and I started getting requests for the comic from people who didn't attend the wedding or that we didn't even know personally. A copy eventually ended up on eBay, and that was when I realized it was no longer a top secret, private thing. My publisher (Drawn & Quarterly) offered to release the book commercially, so I edited it a bit and added some pages, and we put it out as a small hardcover book. And now everyone can read about the embarrassing details of our wedding planning process.
What do you have in the works now?
I'm slowly working on a collection of short stories in comic book form. It's pretty different from the wedding book, most noticeably in that it's fiction and it's in color. I spend most of my time working on that, with occasional breaks for magazine illustration work. Today I'm doing some sketches for an illustration for The New Yorker and a Japanese magazine called In the City.
Is there any chance that we might one day see another issue of your first comic, Optic Nerve?
Yes! In fact, the book that I just referred to will be first serialized in several issues of Optic Nerve before being collected in book form. The first installment should be released towards the end of this summer.
I hear you’re not on Facebook or Twitter … why not?
I get this question a lot, and I'm always surprised by the implicit incredulity. I know I'm in the minority here, but in my mind, it would make more sense to be asking other 36-year-olds, "Why ARE you on Facebook and Twitter?" Especially now that I'm married and I have a kid, it just never occurs to me to spend my precious spare time trying to interact with complete strangers over the Internet. Besides, I'd have the most boring "tweets" of all time: "I just gave Nora lunch. I'm sitting at my drawing table. I just changed Nora's diaper. I'm sitting at my drawing table."
How do you think your drawing style has changed since you first started drawing? Or has it changed much?
I had the mixed blessing of getting my work published at an early age, so there's a lot of very embarrassing drawings and stories of mine out there in the world. I've been trying to improve and evolve ever since then, so I would certainly hope that my drawing style has changed somewhat. But I'm the worst judge of my own work, so who knows?
Do you have a favorite comic book store in Brooklyn?
Desert Island in Williamsburg andin North Slope.
And now onto some more Slope-specific questions: Where are we most likely to spot you around the Slope?
The Third Street playground, DNY Natural Land II, and the laundromat. It's a very glamorous life I lead.
What's your favorite Slope restaurant?
We go to and for lunch a lot because the food is good, but also because we don't feel like we're ruining everyone else's dining experience by bringing our kid in with us. We do a lot more take-out and delivery than before, so we'd be lost without , , , and . is pretty great. Pino's is our go-to place for a quick slice. I used to live near City Sub and when I first moved to New York, so it almost feels like visiting old friends when I make it over there. Oh, and how can I forget: !
What do you love/hate most about living in Park Slope?
Like any neighborhood, it's a good match for some people, and not for others. I mean, I lived in Berkeley for fifteen years, so nothing really surprises me around here! Being close to the park is great, and I feel like that's a big part of why we pay to live in the area. I'd be thrilled if someone opened a big, full-service art supply store in the neighborhood, and I'd gladly trade a couple of the hamburger places for one really good Mexican restaurant.
Has the neighborhood made it into any of your comics?
Yes. People could probably recognize some background details in Scenes from an Impending Marriage, and even moreso in my previous book Shortcomings.
How do you like being a Park Slope parent?
Do you know that song "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" by The Kinks? I don't know what Ray Davies had in mind when he wrote it, but it always struck me as kind of a satire of someone who "doth protest too much" about being a rebel or an outsider. It's a good self-mocking soundtrack for when particularly critical thoughts about the neighborhood pop into my head, and then I realize I'm the one blocking up the sidewalk by pushing a stroller over to the health food store to buy organic baby yogurt or something. In all seriousness, it's actually really great--especially for someone like me who has no idea what he's doing as a parent – to be surrounded by people who either have kids, like kids, or know that they can make money by catering to kids.