Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine

January 29th, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Nerds used to exist on mainstream society’s periphery. With the advent of the Internet and its related technologies as well as the growing popularity and legitimacy of Graphic Novels, Nerds have emerged from their mother’s basement to share their own foibles and insecurities with the Rest Of Us. Lucky Us. See Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them.



And also luckily for Us, there are many, many graphic novels that are Good Entertainment. Shortcomings is no different and very much in the vein of other contemporary graphic novels with its sexual fixation reminiscent of Daniel Clowes and Christopher Ware. Shortcomings is dark and brooding with a clean black and white artistic style that achieves the same simple poignancy as Blankets.

In Shortcomings, Tomine’s dialogue is first-rate. The character’s speech crackles and pops with authenticity. Though Tomine is fond of using “TCH” in his character’s speech patterns. Does “TCH” represent that pulling of tongue down off the roof of your mouth to make that soft sucking noise like a quick peck?



Shortcomings has great narrative pacing that provides light, breezy entertainment despite the inevitable annoyance of overly self-aware, angsty young adults arguing incessantly about their relationship problems. The book is called Shortcomings. Tomine’s mise-en-scene is top-notch with superb transitions, crisp imagery, subtly rivaling a master filmmaker, and great movement within and across the frames. No difficult task for a static medium.

Best of all, Shortcomings is really pretty funny. Some snippets of my 3 favorite parts:

1. “So she’ll writhe around on stage with a bunch of naked creeps, and she’ll take photos of her piss every day, but kissing me…apparently that’s too disgusting for her!

2. “You’re a good kisser.”
“I know. I’m very orally fixated.”

3. “Anyway, I saw her on campus the other day, and it…escalated.”
“Oh-oh. What does that mean?”
“She started talking shit again, so I kicked her in the pussy.”

Bravo, Adrian.

So read this book. And all the others.

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2 Responses to “Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine”

  1. It took me 28 years to figure out that I was a nerd, and I still struggle with certain aspects of it. I do however like to think of myself as a more modernized nerd.

    Had my parents not taught me to like sports instead of school, I would probably be a hell of a lot nerdier. Ahh, the power of parenting.

  2. The author makes a good argument for low test scores in America. I totally understand that its a good thing to make sure that our students have the highest standardized test scores but at what cost. I’m sure we could make an army of nerds if we put the money into it. Then all we would have left to complain about is that the kids are taking this country straight to hell with their lack of social skills. So we’re 24th on the list in math. Why don’t we shoot for 12th and maintain that healthy balance of MTV and Jeopardy.

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