Adrian Tomine Scrapbook: Uncollected Work 1990-2004
By Adrian Tomine
Published by Drawn and Quarterly; $24.95 (USD)

In-between Optic Nerve #9 and the as-yet unreleased #10, one of North America's two best comics publishers offers up a huge retrospective of previously uncollected comics, sketches, posters, record covers, and commentary by one of my favourite cartoonists.

Tomine's Optic Nerve has proven one of the treasures of alternative comics, each issue guaranteed to feature a compelling story and artwork increasingly adept at showing off Tomine's storytelling strengths. Readers here get more than a little peek behind the curtain, seeing Tomine struggle with how to tell a story, work out colour schemes, designs, and more.

If you generally pass on sketchbooks as vanity cash-ins, don't dismiss Scrapbook. This is essential stuff for any comics reader, demonstrating as it does not only the chronological development of Tomine as a cartoonist but really giving invaluable insight into the workings of his mind; if you've ever wondered "How do they do that?" about comics, Scrapbook provides an important piece of the answer: It ain't as easy as it looks. And each issue of Optic Nerve is so confident in its storytelling that you might be surprised to learn here how Tomine struggles with his own gifts.

The book also reproduces dozens of full-length comic strips, so don't use "It ain't comics!" as an excuse -- it is, and good comics, at that.

Beautifully produced, as you'd expect from D&Q, with loads of full-colour images on heavy white paper stock, Scrapbook is a worthy addition to the comics library of any discerning reader. Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane

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