Lost Amidst The Capes: ‘Optic Nerve #11’

Love it or hate it, the super hero genre dominates the majority of our comic purchases. Well, I guess I can’t say “our” because I don’t know what you buy, but for me, it’s a lot. But every once a while, I’m reminded of how good non-super hero comics can be. Last week, Optic Nerve #11 by Adrian Tomine finally came out. Of course my store didn’t get it, so I had to go find it… and am I glad I did.

For those of you unaware of the greatness of Optic Nerve, it’s a black and white comic, telling of personal stories written and drawn by Adrian Tomine. First published as mini comics Drawn and Quarterly has been publishing it since the mid-90s. A run of short stories was published until 2001, when Tomine took a break from the title, returning in 2004 with a series of extended storylines.

Issue #11 was the climax to the current 3-part story and was a doozy. The characters are usually Asian-Americans steeped in the underground/indie culture. The stories often examine the nuances of relationships and the perceptions and realization of the realities around them, Tomine’s art, made up of clean lines and great use of white space remind me of the Hernandez brothers work on Love and Rockets. There’s a subtlety to his art that supports the story as much as the dialogue itself.

With only 11 issues published of the latest volume since 2004, Optic Nerve is one of those books you forget about, until it comes out and then you get all sorts of excited for. If you’ve never read an issue, I strongly recommend looking for issue #12 when it comes out (god knows when) as it will be the beginning of a new story arc. Or you can go find the previous issues. If black and white, indie, relationship-y comics are your thing, you won’t be let down.


  1. Yup, picked up Optic Nerve yesterday afternoon. In the interest of not spoiling anything- Ben confronting his ex was hilarious and sorta sad.

    Great stuff.

  2. Optic Nerve is one of my favorites. I forgot how long it had been since a new issue came out. This issue was pretty heavy and even sad. Here’s hopin’ that issues 12 comes out soon.

  3. I over the last few weeks hunted down all 11 issues and absolutely love this book

  4. YES.

    IMO, I saw the conclusion coming a mile away, but it was totally worth it. And, amazingly, my shop got it in!

    Here’s hopin’ that issue 12 comes out WITHIN THE NEXT DECADE.

  5. The name scares me

  6. As you can tell from my screen name, I am not overly interested in the nuances of relationships and the perceptions and realization of the realities around them. I like it when super heroes beat each other up (like in Invincible or any Marvel book), or when zombies try to eat people and get chopped up (like in The Walking Dead), or when guys with lazer guns shoot aliens (like in the fear agent which is moving to Dark Horse), or when cosmic powered people make reference to classic rock (like in Godland). All of these books are heavy on relationship stuff too, but that’s not all there is. As Arnold says “Don’t be a girly man.”

    But, since I am not closed minded (as in wont give the stones a chance ;-P), I will give it a chance and read it. Knowing my taste, I will probably think it’s crap. But I am not too sutborn to give it a chance…… lol.

  7. I would at least give it a chance. Adrian Tomine is an excellent cartoonist and does a great job at putting a lot of emotion, transparent or not, into a relatively short number of pages. And if you pick up this ish, you should probably pick up the previous two issues to know what’s going on in the story.

    But you have to not be pissed off by stories that end with no obvious resolution. Did you see “Broken Flowers” with Bill Murray? That movie reminds me of a story Tomine would put together. Or at least how he’d end it.

  8. yeah, jaime hernandez came to give aa alk last week at my school. He’s really nice and very soft spoken, I met him, and mentioned how he’s all the rage in comic podcasting circles he was kind of like huh? podcasting?

    anyways really cool guy, he signed a copy of love and rockets for me, which i encourage you all to read, can’t have Y the last man without L&R as the guys at Isatope said, right ron?

  9. whoops! *talk

  10. Ron, I know you like the indie relationship books. You HAVE to check out 12 Things I Love About Her by Jamie Rich. Oni published it and it’s amazing. I absolutely loved it and so has everyone I’ve given it to…

  11. I heard him on Indie Spinner Rack and I’ve been meaning to check it out. Sounds good.

  12. Yea. It is good. I think you’d dig it. I think everyone would dig it, but of the iFanboys, I think my tastes align mostly with Josh’s.

  13. The Emaginaut (@the_emaginaut) says:

    Glads to see that you humans notice good works…http://emaginauts.blogspot.com/2012/07/dear-human-beeblop-v-marriage.html