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Killing and Dying: Stories

(Optic Nerve #12-14)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  7,573 ratings  ·  806 reviews
"One of the most gifted graphic novelists of our time." —Wired

Killing and Dying is a stunning showcase of the possibilities of the graphic novel medium and a wry exploration of loss, creative ambition, identity, and family dynamics. With this work, Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings, Scenes from an Impending Marriage) reaffirms his place not only as one of the most significant cr
Hardcover, 121 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published October 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  7,573 ratings  ·  806 reviews

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May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fantastic! My favourite stories were "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as "Hortisculpture"" and "Amber Sweet" but I took something away from all of them. Really glad that I have two more graphic novels from Tomine because I've never read graphic stories like his: they feel so deeply like short stories in a way I wouldn't have guessed possible from the format. LOVED!
Paul Bryant
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Bloody hell I kind of want my money back but I don’t really but I do. This book is now the record holder for fastest time between discovering its existence, ordering it, getting it and reading it. And the part that took the shortest time was reading it. Well, nearly. It took me about 40 minutes and that was because I was draggin it out looking at the lovely pix and admiring the panel design and all the cool detail that Adrian Tomine puts into his exquisite stuff. So like this is a four point fiv ...more
Greta G
Like his other books, I loved this collection of six short stories by Adrian Tomine. He writes about real people who struggle in some way or other, and while his frail characters aren’t always likable, I mostly end up caring for them. Much is left to the reader’s imagination though, as the stories are brief and the author only gives us little morsels of his characters’ lives. But his talent for visual storytelling is great and much of the emotions of his characters are communicated through his d ...more
Sam Quixote
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-comics-2015
Adrian Tomine’s latest book Killing and Dying collects issues #12-14 of his series Optic Nerve and comprises six stories, almost all of which are superbly written/drawn.

I’ll get the one story I didn’t love out of the way first: Translated, From the Japanese, which reads like a prose poem about a memory from long ago being related from a mother to her child. A lot of Tomine’s stories in this book are very evocative but this one was openly trying for it and it didn’t work. Instead it came off as
David Schaafsma
This is a gorgeous artifact. Hard cover book with amazing packaging, cover. And inside? The best artwork Tomine has done. Some of us know him through his multiple New Yorker covers, some of them collected in New York Drawings. Elegant. Clearly connected in various ways aesthetically to his friend Chris Ware, who can almost match for elegance and tone both artistically and thematically.

I loved his earlier, no less carefully done work, most of it in Summer Blonde, Sleepwalk and Other Stories, Shor
Jan Philipzig
I've always enjoyed Adrian Tomine's clear lines and subtle, slightly twisted character designs... up to a point. I guess I am attracted to the pretty pictures and intrigued by the psychological insight we have come to expect from his stories, but have remained unconvinced that those elements ultimately amount to all that much. The short stories collected in Killing and Dying, culled from the pages of Optic Nerve #12-14 and Kramers Ergot #7, by and large obsess about human quirks and frailties in ...more
Glenn Sumi
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Eight years after his masterful graphic novel Shortcomings , Adrian Tomine expands his range considerably in this exquisite collection of stories, each with a distinct look and mood.

In the opening story, "A Brief History Of The Art Form Known As 'Hortisculpture,'" a feckless gardener comes up with a bizarre idea for an art project, even though no one supports him. The intentionally lightweight presentation - mostly four-panel comics leading to a punchline - helps the tragicomic material go do
Alice Lippart
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
A little forgettable, sadly.
Matthew Quann
I can't remember reading a graphic novel by Tomine before, though his art seemed so familiar that I must have come across his work in an anthology or magazine in the past. I also can't remember having ever read a collection of graphic short stories, but it seems like kind of a no-brainer for the graphic medium to adopt the trends of its closest relative, literature. Make no mistake, Tomine isn't messing around with piddly concepts and thoughts, he's swinging for the literary fences with this one ...more
Anthony Vacca
Apr 19, 2016 rated it liked it
it's fitting that Adrian Tomine designs New Yorker covers because he writes and illustrates New Yorker stories: i.e. short stories focusing on fairly privileged and fairly bland individuals caught up in the self-importance of their own fairly trite daily struggles until fairly uneventful denouements wrap up each of their tales. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Tomine. He does bland and unlikable people quite well, and his drawing style is very uniform and pleasing to the eye. But there is a lack ...more
David Yoon
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of graphic short stories that show what the medium can do. Each is a unique, somewhat melancholic examination of living in the 21st century. I love how Tomine uses illustrations to tell a story as well. In “Translated, from the Japanese” we never see the characters in the story - just glimpses of what they see. And in Killing and Dying a secondary, heartbreaking story is told without words that culminates quietly with a blank panel that’s seems a minor hiccup but encompasses worlds.
Elizabeth A
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: stories, graphix, 2016
This graphic novel is a collection of six stories, and they all deal with regular people, and their dreams and despair. No super heroes, no villains, no happily-ever-afters, and that is what I liked about these stories. They seemed liked snippets of people's lives that you might learn about if you spent a long plane ride with them. The art is wonderful, but I think it's just me - I'm not a fan of short stories, and while I liked most of these, not one of them really stayed with me after I finish ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great collection of 6 short stories. Out of the three graphic novels I've read in this series this was by far the most enjoyable. The illustrations, stories and general quality of the book were A+ and left me wanting more.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Gah damn, I am digging this graphic novel life. 💅🏻💅🏻💅🏻

I'm new to this genre, very new, like second-graphic-novel-i-have-ever-read new, so I don't really know the variables that go into making a good graphic novel; but I do know that I couldn't put this down, and I do know that Killing and Dying will make you reevaluate your life, your relationships, and just your overall being. Which I think is a pretty good indication of a pretty good graphic novel.

But hey, like I said, what do I know.

Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
These are all stories about alienation, isolation, sadness. I usually hate stuff like this, but I connected with Tomine's stories here. I dug the characters, I don't know how he does it, but he makes you connect and care for them. He has a very deft touch in his storytelling, good pacing, nuanced, quiet...

Also, I am not usually into this type of art style, meticulous, clean, very measured mechanical lines. I'm not saying it's not beautifully executed, because it is beautiful, wonderful composit
Stewart Tame
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's an indefinable quality to Tomine's stories that resists easy summary. It's particularly evident in "Go Owls", where the scenes seem to begin late and end early, just a bit more so than one would expect. It adds a sense of unbalance and unease that works well with the story. There's also some playing with time evident in "Killing and Dying", where the breaks between the scenes turn out to encompass more time than you might expect. His characters feel very real, very ordinary. Some of the ...more
Oh man, Adrian Tomine was my very first graphic novelist, not counting Maus. I spent one summer working at an outdoor book stall in Central Park, occasionally selling art books and maps to tourists, but mostly just reading, reading, reading. I devoured The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in one shift, tore through much of The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, consumed John Henry Days, The Bloody Chamber, and, with violent despair, Summer Blonde. God, that book.

He's great in this one, to
Kamila Kunda
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading graphic novels from time to time and Adrian Tomine with his newest collection of six graphic short stories is brilliant. I love his drawings and find him very skilled at showing a variety of emotions through nuances. He is also an amazing storyteller, able to convey more in the bubbles in the drawings than many novelists do in hundreds of words. He is particularly moving handling the notion of disappointment, the way life doesn't turn out to be as we wish. An extremely satisfying ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of short stories in graphic novel form. Beautiful and spare, the art is pitch perfect and sublime, and the stories are all subtle but painfully relatable. A great way to spend an hour.

(Killing and Dying refers to stand-up comedy, so don't be too alarmed).
Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)
Just one story that I actually liked from this collection (Amber Sweet), rest of it were really forgettable. Wouldn't recommend.
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
These are all a bit sad. I really like how the deaths of people in most of these stories are not at all the center of the story, as it highlights how much death and dying is just a part of everyone's life, and how dealing with this really hard thing terribly is actually pretty common. I thought the 3rd story, Go Owls, was my favorite but also the saddest - truthfully it might have been my favorite because I thought it was the saddest. The 4th one I honestly didn't really understand on first... o ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was drawn to this mainly because the hardcover version is a beaut, so even if the book sucked, aesthetically it had already won me over.
There are six stories, and there is a likely chance that one of these stories will resonate with you on some level so be prepared for that. It's not the cheeriest of reads but there is humour to some of the stories. My fave was Hortisculpture i don't know why it just got to me, the whole idea of even if you really want something to happen and you try your bes
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
i first came upon tomine from reading nonrequired reading 2012 (the horitsculpture story) The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 and think it is best of this collected works, but all of tomine are beautifully drawn, both pictures and characters, and though very sad, also very funny, and good twists to satisfy the most self-satisfied out there. talks about 'american' life mostly and how we are so good at turning away from love, or cynically using love as a con to get over on somebody else. ca ...more
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
These little moments are like illustrated outlines of a Carver story.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books, 2017
Beautiful book but far too short!
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, graphic-novels
Read 10/27/2019

I hadn’t realized these were part of the same series as Summer Blonde which I read awhile ago but hardly remember. They both have the same bland, forgettable, somewhat depressing slice of life stories about average people with mostly average problems.

My gut reaction was to rate this two stars but then I let it marinate a bit and changed my mind. For all the strange drab and dreariness that enveloped both the aesthetics and the very foundation of these stories, there was something
James DeSantis
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Well due to it being a bunch of one shot stories of course not every one will hit.

So we have a story of a guy trying to show his art, his craft to the world, but no one likes his ugly ass plants. Then we have another story about a mother traveling overseas writing basically a letter to her son. We have one where a girl is trying to be a comedian and her father and mother have different view points on it. Then we have one about a woman and a guy meeting at a AA meeting, both damaged, and both fa
Athena Lathos
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5* I turned to this collection of graphic short stories after reading Julie Maroh's beautiful (though sometimes a little simple w/r/t narrative) recent collection, Body Music. I absolutely loved Killing and Dying. Tomine plays with the format of speech bubbles, dialogue placement, and visual point-of-view in such interesting and moving ways. I loved the story, for example, when we never see the characters' faces, but only the first-person perspective of the main character as she sees the world ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Killing and Dying is a collection of six graphic short stories which examines the frailty and melancholic aspects of the human condition in contemporary society. Tomine's writing is extremely evocative; it is spare, yet dense, and his stories really pack a punch. I enjoyed all six stories but the Hortisculpturist was by far my favourite. This was my first Tomine read and it certainly won't be my last.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, comix
Little things: Owls references (hoot hoot hoot!), the color panels in Hortisculpture like a bizarro Family Circus, when the background goes white in that shoe scene, the cover, the title, a story told without people or speech bubbles, a line of mascara where there wasn't one before.

Big things: people who are trying and maybe failing but still they're trying: "Welcome Home!" Right?

(Edit: actually the background goes beige.)
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What's Next?: Book Review: Killing and Dying 1 4 Feb 16, 2020 12:33PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Optic Nerve (1 - 10 of 15 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

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