Four sections comprise the 14th issue of Adrian Tomine’s one-man anthology, Optic Nerve: the narratives “Killing and Dying,” “Intruders,” the letters page and a one-page autobiographical strip on the inside back cover. Each component is thematically distinct, but they’re all drawn together by Tomine’s affinity for pinpointing and elucidating some of the most uncomfortably universal emotions that mark the human experience.
“Killing and Dying,” which appears to be related to five other stories in Tomine’s impending collection of the same name, occupies the majority of this issue. The story centers on a couple and their teenage daughter, and as we learn, the title refers to two things: “Killing” in the colloquial sense (“You killed it”)—a reference to the daughter’s stand-up comedy aspirations—and dying in the literal sense, a reference to the wife, who is dying from an undisclosed illness.
Laid out in a consistent 4×5 grid and rendered in Tomine’s signature line—thin, unwavering and solid with a touch of stylization—“Killing and Dying” is told through a series of vignettes, engagements between parents and child regarding the latter’s future. Tomine coats his pages in a khaki-inflected palette, lending the scenes an unaffected solemnity.