Friday, June 19, 2009

Adrian Tomine & Seth

Seth and tomine book tourThe Booksmith
In Conversation: Adrian Tomine and Seth
Thursday, June 18 at 7:30 pm
A Special Off-Site Event
at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page St.

Last night I attended the last stop of the book tour by cartoonists Adrian Tomine & Seth. The basement of the Park Branch Library held an SRO crowd of well over a hundred fans & art students. The event began 15 minutes late, as we waited for people to finish using the restroom, whose door was strategically placed behind the screen needed for the artists' slides.

Seth, beautifully dressed in a slim 1940s suit, read 12 vignettes from a carefully prepared script. He rang a service bell to mark the end of each one. The stories ranged from his art school experiences to a 40-page kiss in a Japanese comic that may or may not exist. A slide show of his distinctively old-fashioned illustrations & model buildings was projected while he talked. It was a wistful piece of performance art.

Adrian Tomine, bearded & soft-spoken, read from his essay accompanying the re-release of his 32 Stories. Given that this is a book tour, he was oddly self-deprecating, a fact which he freely admitted. He also had fun at the expense of a couple of unnamed but identifiable colleagues & showed an early rejection letter, hand-written on the back of another cartoonist's work! Mr. Tomine gave a genuinely grateful appreciation of Drawn & Quarterly publisher Chris Oliveros, who supported his work "sooner than he should have."

During the Q & A, it was curious to hear Seth say that he hates the term "nostalgia." He claims not to like the sentimentality associated with the term. This is despite his obvious obsession with old things & characters who are old men looking back on their lives.

As publishing is daily becoming more digital, I find it interesting that the artists' new books are very fancy productions. Seth's George Sprott: (1894-1975) is an album-sized 12 x 14 inches, & his fluid line looks gorgeous at this large size. Tomine's 32 Stories has been re-done as a boxed collection, reproducing each issue in its original mini-comic format. The pages are falling out of my old copy of the bound edition, so I may end up investing in the new one.

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