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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: Killing and Dying

Killing and Dying - Adrian Tomine


A few weeks ago, I started a new campaign: to give Graphic Novels a fair shot. I've never read anything that could be considered a graphic novel, but for the next several months, I intend to read many, pushing forward until I just can't take it any more. I figured it would take a while for me to find something I loved, something that made me a believer in the genre. Then I discovered Adrian Tomine.


My second “graphic novel,” Adrian Tomine's Killing and Dying, isn't truly a graphic novel as it is a collection of stories. Is Graphic Short Story Collection a term? Doesn't matter. This collection is fabulous and exactly what I was looking for: a story (or in this case a collection of stories) that stands on its own but uses the medium of visual art to elevate it or simply to give it a different perspective. For the large part, these stories are engaging, poignant, and insightful. These are stories that take place in the midst of everyday living, offering glimpses of those significant moments when internal conflict changes a person. A couple of the stories left me wondering long after, questioning whether the “obvious” conclusion was only one layer of what I was to take away. This stories stuck with me, the added images leaving me with faces and scenes that imprinted themselves on my memory as being of equal importance.


Tomine's art is fantastic. Each story is presented in a different style, a different set of colors, and a different perspective. I'd never before considered that graphic novelists could have such a range of storytelling options. As a fellow writer, I can't help but marvel at a motif that is as carefully selected for each piece as point-of-view, narrative style, and characterization are mulled over by more traditional writers.


So, now I'm a believer. The next question is, how many Tomines are out there? Did I happen to so easily stumble upon one in a million, or will I discover many others who are equally impressive? The search continues.


Superhero Count: Zero.