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Summer Blonde (Optic Nerve #5-8)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  5,485 ratings  ·  225 reviews
Adrian Tomine’s cult comix series Optic Nerve is finally collected into one sharp-looking hardcover graphic novel. Described as the Raymond Carver of comix, Tomine constructs tales of emotional disconnection with an ear for painfully real dialogue. Combined with his deft black and white depictions of urbane lifestyles, Tomine’s fans have often accused him of eavesdropping ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Drawn and Quarterly
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant

I really like those quiet Sundancy American indie movies like Wendy and Lucy, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Winter’s Bone, Frozen River, Ghost World, Gigantic, Go, Happiness, Humpday and Please Give – even when they don’t knock your socks off the atmosphere of teetering-on-the-edge-of-melancholia is just right for me, it’s like a bottle of my favourite bootleg hooch*; and Summer Blonde is exactly one of those movies, in graphic novel form. I loved the bittersweet tang of all four stories here, and t
...more
Rory
SHUT UP, Adrian Tomine. I get that your characters are all you, and that they're all your girlfriends, and that they're all lonely and disconnected and pathetic. I get it, now SHUT UP. And endings? I know they're not hip, but you could humour us with some, couldn't you?
Michael Alexander
May 13, 2007 Michael Alexander rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of trendy sad bastard comix like Ghost World or Jimmy Corrigan
Such a right-on look at urban/suburban loneliness. We all may not have felt this way in our high school and college and 20-something years, but I sure have at times. Sure, the characters are whiny and self-pitying, but so are people who actually go through those situations. This is not as Raymond Carver-redux as everybody is claiming--for one thing, the situations are a little more unusual, where Carver really gets great mileage out of the banal and the utterly ordinary. No, this feels like clas ...more
Bryce Holt
I'm constantly amazed that people crap all over themselves about books like this. It's all sad-ass stories about powerless people living very upsetting lives, nerds who have been picked on during high school and who are still dwelling on it, and human interactions that just don't typically happen (but are framed as commonplace). I feel as if the vast majority of these types of stories also are predominantly produced in Chicago and San Francisco, and this...of course...seems to all happen in San ...more
Sharm Alagaratnam
Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine was my most recent comic book recommendation. The four stories contained within each encapsulate a little slice of California Gen X life in all its urban loneliness. In fact, what I liked most about them was that there weren't tidy endings to any of the stories. Additionally, anyone who is at all Chinese or knows anything about (migrant) Chinese culture may identify very much with Hillary in 'Hawaiian Getaway'.

I found a surprisingly good review of the book by Time
...more
Andrew
I suppose my reaction to the stories in this book is largely dependent on my hope that Tomine is truly critiquing the "nice guy" types who are the protagonists of his stories. Making a character loathsome is not the same thing as calling into question the basic validity of their self-image (for evidence that the two aren't necessarily the same thing, see Philip Roth or Martin Amis or Richard Ford).

The way that most of Tomine's female characters remain locked in the terms of manic-pixie-dream-gi
...more
Jen
Wow. I had been enjoying the Optic Nerve single issues I was reading, but this book totally blew me away. I read Tomine's 32 Stories not too long ago (his collection of really early, self-published Optic Nerve issues), and the distance he traveled between that book and this one is remarkable to me. Summer Blonde is four different stories - each one of which was published in an issue of Optic Nerve, I believe, before they were collected - and the title of one of the stories is Summer Blonde. My f ...more
Jimmy
Jun 30, 2009 Jimmy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jimmy by: p.c. atl
Summer blonde, some are not blonde, and some just fantasize about blondes. There's too much teen angst and white-boy self pity in these pages for me to really be very enthusiastic about it. All four protagonists are losers who are just creepy or bitter enough for you to not feel sorry for him/her. The first two stories suffered from this the most, I felt like the artist was writing about himself. The last two stories are an improvement. I liked the 3rd story the most, because it was about an asi ...more
Jess
Oh. Despite really not liking Shortcomings , Summer Blonde has redeemed Adrian Tomine in my eyes. I think his characters, who may strike unaccustomed readers as obnoxious or intentionally abrasive, are more tolerable in these brief glimpses. Again, the artwork is clean, detailed and subtly expressive, with that rare quality in graphic fiction of looking like actual people you may pass in the street.

These are not definitive moments in these peoples lives, they're not transformative moments, but
...more
David
These stories of young men and women seeking meaning (and seldom finding it) in a world that is as aimless and sometimes as cruel as they themselves are, may at first seem somewhat drifty and static, but they have a way of creeping in under the skin and setting up residence in the heart. A maladjusted former telephone girl – fired for acknowledging that it was William Shatner ordering those crewnecks – strikes up a relationship with a victim of a crank call. A socially inept author parlays his n ...more
Adan
Tomine moves into longform storytelling in this collection, with each story the length of the original Optic Nerve issues. I think I prefer his shorter work, but am still digging his stuff.
Kate
This is really more of a 1.5 stars. I picked this up at the library knowing nothing about it. I didn't really see the point in any of these stories. They were all cut way too quickly or had no development. This is one of the not-so-great graphic novels I've read. There are better ones out there.
A
Jan 30, 2014 A rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to A by: Alarra
Quiet, beautiful and perfect. There is a strangely crystalline property to his work that feels like everything is being minutely observed and preserved in the bell jar of the page. I could read this through over and over (and have!).
Helen
Jul 14, 2015 Helen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
Four disturbing stories about characters that do not quite fit in and the strategies they've adopted to cope. The stories & drawings are well-written and very well-drawn - very perceptive, dead-pan humor, examining the hopelessness of life.

The protagonists are all outsiders - mostly, not very nice people, yet the reader sees that their response is due to the lousy hand they've been dealt in life, in addition to having to deal with social milieus that are for various reasons highly irritatin
...more
Forrest Taylor
I have a signed copy of this book. If anyone wants it, tell me.
It's interesting that this has been compared to the Raymond Carver of comics, because my only experience with Raymond Carver has been in the recent film Birdman, in which a washed-up movie star tries to put on a Broadway play based on the book. From what I got, this is, yeah, similar. It's cynical. None of the characters really want anything, they just obsess over people. They're antisocial, and antisocial in a worrying way. The conc
...more
Alexandra
Four short stories chronically the damage people do to themselves and others, all in the name of... something. That something is left up to the reader to discern (the something of feeling better? the something of not being alone? the something of being unwanted? the something of being a failure?), and perception colors this (black and white) volume. The line work and art are realistic and fine, each detail simple enough to allow the panels to breathe, but each character has a defined look, even ...more
Jeff
Nov 01, 2014 Jeff rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeff by: a review by Paul Bryant
Adrian Tomine's characters and stories are not for me. I rapidly skimmed the title story (2nd of 4 in this collection) from about the midpoint. Someday i hope to understand what other people have enjoyed so much about his work as it'll likely mean i've learned something about Gen Xers. For now, i feel more alienated from Tomine's work than his typical lead characters feel from the girls they long for.

Upon further self-examination:
I feel affronted, angry, irritated. I'm fighting an urge to create
...more
Jamie
Dec 02, 2011 Jamie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jamie by: www.atomicbooks.com
Shelves: graphic-novels, adult
Oh, the ambiguous endings. Or lack thereof. I find these stories to be perfect, and the endings to be so as well. When you read a book, and get to know the characters, do you really want to think that their story is over just because you have finished the book? Or do you prefer to think they go on living their imperfect lives? I guess I'm the latter.
Amanda
More like 3.5... Summer Blonde is a collection of fourt stories originally presented in Optic Nerve each about someone who is painfully uncomfortable in their own skin. I could see how some people could find Tomine a little redundant, but I think if it's good, go with it.
Zoey
I really loved this collection. I haven't been big into graphic novels in the past, but there is something very enticing about Tomine's use of character development. The characters are introduced as bland, every-man characters but often have a touch of depth or perversion that draws the reader into a beautiful, often philosophically-inclined world. It's also very interesting to see how Tomine's work is subtly autobiographical. As someone new to the Bay Area, it's very fun to pick out the SF/Oakl ...more
pierlapo  quimby
La differenza tra Tomine e molti degli scrittori minimalisti contemporanei è che Tomine, oltre a saper disegnare bene, presumo meglio di loro, è bravo.
Oriana
This is one of the books I read that summer I worked at the kiosk in Central Park. Something I'd never have picked up otherwise that just blew me away.
Kristin
Boo hoo, Adrian Tomine. Get over yourself and your terrible high school experiences. I've never seen so much self pity crammed into so few pages.
Andy
I really liked 32 Stories but this is pretty different stylistically. I think many of the reviews already written about Summer Blonde pretty much hit the nail on the head, esp. the Sundance Channel movies analogy.

I also find too many stylistic similarities to the serious Daniel Clowes works (David Boring, Ice Haven, Mr. Wonderful, etc.) going on here, right down to the greeting card joke cartoons. This doesn't make Summer Blonde a bad book, but if Tomine invested the humor and wildness of 32 Sto
...more
Julia
I love Adrian Tomine's observational style. His illustrations are realistic in a stark and brutal way. They are exquisitely detailed in black and white, and he draws focus to beautiful visual details such as facial expressions and body language to extend the impact of the story and dialogue. The stories feature characters who are pathetic losers living with disappointment, loss, and broken hopes. There is something in the dark humour and the agonising honesty which makes for compelling reading. ...more
Kaley
Hailed as a "cult comic series," Summer Blonde is really just a lot of bad writing paired with some fairly good comic strip drawing.

I should have known that I wouldn't enjoy this very much when I read the inside jacket and the publisher's warning that Tomine makes the same "mistakes" that "all young writers make."

Really what the publisher is saying is that Tomine is an inexperienced writer. Summer Blonde is his practice work. And it never should have been published. Available via website maybe,
...more
Artur Coelho
Blonde Platine, Summer Blonde no original, é um livro que reune quatro histórias publicadas originalmente no comic Optic Nerve, um comic influente e inovador que Tomine publica desde os seus dezasseis anos (nada como génios precoces).

Blonde Platine é composto por quatro contos em BD. No primeiro, Alter Ego, somos introduzidos ao mundo de um escritor que luta débilmente para escrever o seu segundo livro. Enquanto busca inspiração, envolve-se com a irmã mais nova de uma antiga paixão platónica dos
...more
Eli
The last story gets three stars. In general I had issues with this book though. It seems as if the medium with which Tomine tells his stories really stifles any progression the stories might make. Everyone comes across as really two-dimensional and, I promise I'm not trying to be cute here, everything is so black and white. The guys are either pathetic, awkward losers/chauvinistic jocks and the girls are all masochistic sluts with low self esteem. There is also a lot of blankness to the way Tomi ...more
Mike
I decided to include Summer Blonde in the "catching-up" dimension of my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge after going to my favourite comic book shop and being stared at incredulously at the shrugging motion I made when the clerk asked me if I had ever read some Adrian Tomine. He immediately pulled out Summer Blonde from the stack and emphasised on how important it was for me to acquaint myself with the book.

It was incredibly easy to get into these four stories of social and emotional isolation, if
...more
Maggie
I'm not totally sure this is a youth appropriate text, but wanna get the hang of this, and I read it last night.

Adrian Tomine's graphic novel, a collection of four short stories, is for a high school reader, if not a late high school reader. Tomine explores the isolation and loneliness of four modern young characters. "Alter Ego" tells the story of a young author floundering to try and find his next project, checking out of his own life and only being able to connect with the high school aged yo
...more
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ADRIAN TOMINE was born in 1974 in Sacramento, California. He began self-publishing his comic book series Optic Nerve. His comics have been anthologized in publications such as McSweeney’s, Best American Comics, and Best American Nonrequired Reading, and his graphic novel "Shortcomings" was a New York Times Notable Book of 2007. His next release, "Killing and Dying" will be published by Drawn and Q ...more
More about Adrian Tomine...

Other Books in the Series

Optic Nerve (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Optic Nerve #1
  • Optic Nerve #2
  • Optic Nerve #3
  • Optic Nerve #4
  • Optic Nerve #5
  • Optic Nerve #6
  • Optic Nerve #7
  • Optic Nerve #8
  • Optic Nerve #9
  • Optic Nerve #10
Shortcomings Sleepwalk and Other Stories 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics Optic Nerve #1 Scenes from an Impending Marriage

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