Adrian Tomine.

FROM YOUR DESKS: What time of day do you work?
ADRIAN TOMINE: Whenever my one-year-old daughter is either asleep or out of the house. I used to waste a lot of time “getting ready to work” or “warming up” or “waiting for inspiration to strike.” Now I feel like a runner at the starting line: when that gun is fired, I’ve got to spring into action.
FYD: It appears you are quite organized.
AT: Other cartoonists make fun of me for having such a spartan, tidy studio. All my friends have these amazing rooms filled to the rafters with books, toys, artwork, etc., and then my studio looks like it belongs to an anal-retentive architect or something. It’s probably some low-grade OCD thing, but I actually have a hard time working in a cluttered, pack-rat environment.
Adrian Tomine was born in 1974 in Sacramento, California. He is the writer and artist of the comic book series Optic Nerve, as well as the books Sleepwalk and Other StoriesSummer Blonde,and Shortcomings. His comics and illustrations have appeared in The New York Times and McSweeney’s, among others, and he is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

FYD: Where did the tea cup come from?

AT: I got that mug in Japan. Initially I just liked the little graphic, but then I noticed the text. And I’m allowed to laugh at that because I’m Japanese.

FYD: Bye, bye coffee. As a recent devotee, what kind of tea do you drink?

AT: Despite what the mug says, I’m a coffee drinker. I need my morning dose of Cafe Bustelo.

FYD: Has New York changed since you’ve become a parent?

AT: To be honest, I didn’t really go out that much before becoming a parent, so that hasn’t been a huge change. A lot of people pay the exorbitant rents of New York so they can avail themselves of all the cultural offerings, but I pay the exorbitant rent so I can stay at home and know that I could avail myself of all that culture if I wanted to.

FYD: I consider you true New York “moment catcher,” in that you always capture those sliding door situations.  I’m thinking of your New Yorker cover Missed Connections and the girl sad to leave New York. Have you shared in these moments?
AT: I think it might help that I’m not a real New Yorker. Even though I’ve lived here since 2003, I still usually feel like some wide-eyed tourist.
FYD: I still think the subway is the best place to accomplish reading. 
AT: Yes: I used to dread a long subway ride, but now that’s my best opportunity to either read or listen to music.
FYD: Do you believe in Missed Connections or play as it lays?
AT: Neither: I’m married!
FYD: I was thinking Missed Connections, not in the love department, but just a passing of fate. I think of editing as a tough gig. Did editing the works of Yoshihiro Tatsumi help you look into your own work with a new set of eyes?
AT: I learned that editing is one of the best ways to really engage with an artist’s work and I’ve certainly benefitted from it, but it’s not something I’d want to do full-time.
It’s probably some low-grade OCD thing, but I actually have a hard time working in a cluttered, pack-rat environment.

FYD: As an artist, it would be tricky to promote or illustrate for movies, bands, authors I didn’t like. However, John Wray’s LOWBOY  character felt it might be Adrian Tomine endorsed. Was he?

AT: When I was more dependent on illustration work, I’d constantly find myself in these situations where I was weighing the money being offered versus how embarrassed I’d be to associate myself with whatever band, movie, tv show, etc. that was making the offer. LOWBOY was one of those rare opportunities where I liked the book, I liked the author, and I was paid nicely to basically draw the top half of a kid’s head.

FYD: If we were to catch up the crew of Summer Blonde now; where might they be?

AT: I can’t even remember where they were then! It’s really hard for me to look at my older work, so I honestly haven’t seen those characters or stories in years.

FYD: Is the old saying You Can’t Go Home Again true? I have stacks of journals with ideas, perhaps it’s better not to revisit your own work?

AT: I’ll go back and find unused ideas in sketchbooks and start working on them again. It’s just the published stuff that I hate to revisit, maybe because I know there’s nothing I can do to fix the mistakes that jump off the page at me.

FYD: Do you a ritual you still follow in the way of  a favorite comic book store in the City or Brooklyn?

AT: These days it’s pretty rare that I make a designated comic book store outing. My visits to the various shops in NY are generally dictated by their proximity to restaurants that my wife and I like.

FYD: Any (relatively) new artists you like in the comic book world?

AT: If you asked me this ten years ago, I probably would’ve had to wrack my brain, but now it seems like there’s too many to list. Off the top of my head, though, I’d mention Vanessa Davis, who just had a great book called Make Me a Woman published by Drawn & Quarterly, and Jonathan Bennett, who contributes to MOME and The Believer.

I think it might help that I’m not a real New Yorker. Even though I’ve lived here since 2003, I still usually feel like some wide-eyed tourist

FYD: Scenes From An Impending Marriage; any late hints of wisdom you wish you had put in the book?

AT: I have no wisdom! Not when I was making the book, and not now!

Find Adrian’s work here and news et al. here.

2 Comments For “Adrian Tomine.”

  1. Saw the bit about you on NPR. I sent a copy of the mug pic to my sister-in-law as my brother teases her about the Rs and Ls. She’s a linguist Professor in Japan.
    You’re really good at what you do and I hope you keep it up.

  2. Torquil says:

    Glad to see someone else who can’t work among clutter. I love looking at clutter, and LOVE others cluttered work areas, but I just get bogged down and unable to work when my own desk is cluttered!

    Anyway, really nice work!

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