In his new graphic memoir Scenes from an Impending Marriage, Adrian Tomine grows up, gets married and remains, against the odds, fairly boring.
You might remember Tomine from his well-known, questionably ongoing indie comic Optic Nerve (questionably in the sense that he hasn’t released a new issue since 2007). Scenes has this jumping-the-shark feel that most TV shows reach sooner or later, often when protagonists get married or learn they’re pregnant. At this point, it’s pretty much guaranteed the writers have run out of ideas. Most of the incidents in this prenuptial record seem lifted wholesale from any number of network sitcoms. Weddings are expensive, women are more interested in wedding planning than men are, arguments about whom to invite and dealing with some wacky person called DJ Buttercream. Ho, ho, ho.
Granted, there are some nice moments in Tomine’s memoir. For instance, when the happy couple checks out a posh venue featuring “floor-to-ceiling windows that look right out into ‘the projects’.” In another reality check moment, the couple volunteers at a dinner for people living with HIV and AIDS, instead of shopping for wedding socks.
Reading Scenes I’m reminded of Neal Pollack, former writer of hilarious and insightful fiction about punk rock and satirical articles shredding the self-important and fact-less state of journalism. He now writes a blog about his toddler’s bowel movements. The lesson for cartoonists is this: please don’t do autobio comics unless your life is actually interesting. (Richard Rosenbaum)
Adrian Tomine, 54 pgs, Drawn & Quarterly, drawnandquarterly.com, $10.50