Sleepwalk and Other Stories- A Review

Adrian Tomine is a Brooklyn-based comic creator who has written and illustrated the Optic Nerve series, as well as the books, Summer Blonde and Shortcomings. Furthermore, he contributes comic strips for the New York Times and the New Yorker. While I haven’t had a chance to read his earlier work, I recently picked up ’Sleepwalk and other stories’ and thoroughly the comic.

It is a comic book which contains sixteen short stories that deal with contemporary relationships or the complete absence of relationships. Raymond Carver once said, “It’s possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring—with immense, even startling power.” If you take Mr. carver’s word for it, then you’re bound to enjoy this comic. Tomine removes the ‘happy endings’ and instead, uses his stories as a mirror to modern society. I believe that we put all our efforts into achieving fame, money or other selfish ends, and forget to nurture the relationships that we have made in the course of our lives. And i will admit that I am just as guilty as anybody else this applies to. These stories have a resemblance to Carver’s style of writing and that is a testament to the quality of work. The characters in the stories exhibit no duality, and you get the feeling that Tomine calls it like he sees it, and there’s honestly nothing wrong with that.

The art, i believe, is his strong suit. The characters seem like real people which makes it so easy to relate to them. Tomine doesn’t illustrate muscular hulks who can bench-press monster trucks. The panels are well planned and it’s easy for a reader to move from one to the next without being distracted. What I really appreciated was that the characters looked American. Tomine is an American, the characters in his comics are American, and they must look so. The reason I say this is because lots of comic creators adapt from the local mythology, yet their style tends towards Manga or the Japanese style of illustration.

In conclusion, I really liked Adrian Tomine’s simplistic style of telling stories. If literature consists of books that appeals to men and women as men and women, then this style of work can bring comics into the realm of literature too. Since I’ve never read his work before, I was not sure what to expect. However, I have now turned into a Tomine fan. I would recommend Sleepwalk and other stories to anyone who loves the medium of comics and is curious about its range.