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Summer Blonde

(Optic Nerve #5-8)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  7,794 ratings  ·  373 reviews
Adrian Tomine's cult comix series Optic Nerve is finally collected into one sharp-looking hardcover volume. 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 in on t ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Drawn and Quarterly
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,794 ratings  ·  373 reviews

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Jul 21, 2007 rated it it was ok
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?
Greta G
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Voyeurs
Oh, people can be so pathetic. Yes, they can be.
And disconnected. And lonely.
They struggle with their feelings. And with their relationships.
It’s really hard to like them, sometimes. They seem so alienated and powerless. And they keep making bad choices and connect with even more unlikeable characters.
Aren’t they just so hopeless? These people don’t seem to find meaning and joy in their lives. It’s just so depressing to observe these socially inept characters.
At the same time, it’s also inc
Paul Bryant
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
Jan Philipzig
Collecting four short stories originally published as Optic Nerve #5-8, Summer Blonde provides the compelling, highly memorable glimpses into teenage angst, alienation and romance you'd expect from Adrian Tomine. It's impressive stuff, especially considering Tomine was only in his 20s when these comics originally came out. The influence of cartoonists such as Dan Clowes and Jaime Hernandez can still be felt, but Tomine is gradually developing his own brand of subtly voyeuristic storytelling here ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
I wasn't initially planning to write a review for Summer Blonde, but thought it necessary to share my thoughts - both on this collection and on general meaning in literature - after seeing some rather negative feedback from fellow readers on this graphic novel.

Summer Blonde is the first piece I've read by Adrian Tomine. It consists of four short stories following the everyday lives of four different characters, all equally flawed and unlikeable, yet tied together by their feelings of loneliness
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 19, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  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
May 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
May 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Francesca by: Mercedes
I don't know how I feel about this one: the actual short stories were engaging, interesting, refreshing, BUT none of them had a ending. They just stopped abruptly. I guess there was a message behind that, but I was not able to catch it.
Bryce Holt
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
The characters see cruelty in this world and reflect the cynicism that they see. The problem is they refuse to see anything else. Self absorption can be forgiven in teenagers but not excessive self pity generated by being anti social. As there is no ending or a right beginning to these characters, I could be horribly unfair in calling these characters that.
Stewart Tame
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve seen one or two reviews that characterize Tomine's protagonists in this book as “losers.” That seems, perhaps, a bit too negative to me. Sure, they're outsiders, intelligent enough to be dissatisfied with the banalities of ordinary life, and struggling to find fulfillment and meaning in a world that can seem devoid of both. His characters live in their heads, overly conscious of their own actions and motivations. They worry too much about how others perceive them.

Reading back over what I ju
Newly Wardell
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Hated it. Every single frame. Illustrations are okay and while not my cuppa it was original. It made me long for cliches tho. Hard to believe this writer is a father of girls given his utterly bleak outlook on female behavior. Just 150+ pages of sad. Not the greatest start to a new year
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Compelling. That's the only way to describe this book. I challenge you not to see yourself and people you encounter throughout your life in this work.

All of the negative reviews are true. Each short story is unrelated to the others, they are realistic, sweet (sometimes) but mostly sour, and even depressing. They lack beginning and certainly ending. They are only brief snapshots of normal human beings floundering in life.

Snapshots fantastically captured in mind-reading-genius detail.

John Donne
Jul 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mateen Mahboubi
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tomine is clearly a student of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, taking the gekiga-style of comics and moving us into a suburban US context. Typically all the protagonists think that they're in the right but they're all deeply flawed characters (but aren't we all).
Rating: 2.0 stars

Depressing short stories with unlikable characters and bad endings. I already forgot most of them. I also didn't like the art style in this graphic novel.
Deborah Coffy
May 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sharm Alagaratnam
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
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
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, comics
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
Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Robert Davis
Like all of Tomine's work, the illustrations are top notch but the stories pedestrian and uneventful. The constant theme is the inability of people to connect and communicate with each other. No happy endings here, just sadness, despair and loneliness. Thumbs down.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Robin Stevens
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Alarmingly well written and drawn, these are stories worth lingering over.
Edward Smith
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just the right amount of angst to keep the story interesting without wallowing. Enjoyed the story and the simple art work
Yas Tébourbi
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This one deserves six stars
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simple, clear art. Well known, well represented characters. Intimate vignettes of neuroticism in the mundane world.
Read August 24th, 2018

Um. This was interesting. I’m not even sure what I would classify this as? Short-story-graphic-novels? Is that a thing. ? Well Summer Blonde (Optic Care novels) made it one if it wasn’t one already.

I read a review that said that Summer Blonde perfectly embodies that nostalgia-for-summer feeling. Nostalgia for summers gone by, time gone by, life gone by. And I thought, YES. I need that! That sounds right up my alley. Nostalgia being one of my most favorite-least-favorite fee
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Goodreads Librari...: Book description 2 11 Mar 25, 2018 06:16AM  

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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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