Tomine, Adrian. Summer Blonde.

Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2003.

I enjoy “graphic fiction” — not superhero stuff, mostly, but realistic stories. Real people dealing with the real world. Tomine made his reputation with carefully-drawn, multi-dimensional portraits of people just like his readers, and you’ll find a number of them in these four stories, all of which are set in San Francisco.

In “Alter Ego,” we meet Martin Courtney, twenty-six years old and a modestly successful author, but he’s also rather a dweeb who until recently has never had an actual girlfriend. When you learn that the novel he ghost-wrote for a third-tier Hollywood celeb got better reviews than the first novel published under his own name, you’ll understand why he lacks confidence. Then he receives a postcard that seems to be from the girl he was obsessed with back in high school, and he goes looking for her. And she’s not around — but her kid sister is.

“Summer Blonde” involves Neil and his new neighbor, Carlo, a womanizing guitarist. Neil has a thing for Vanessa, a high school girl who works at a greeting card shop (so he buys a lot of useless cards), but then he discovers that Carlo has gotten there first. Some guys seem to get whatever they want, right? And other guys, even the slightly creepy ones, seem to get nothing. But Carlo will get what’s coming to him.

“Hawaiian Getaway” is an interesting piece about Hillary Chan, an Asian-American call center operator who gets laid off because she committed the unforgiveable sin of “recognizing” a celebrity customer on the phone. So now she’s at loose ends, going to parties and watching passers-by from her apartment window. Then her male roommate moves out, but a prank phone call of her own gets her involved with a possibly nice guy. Maybe. If he’ll just go to the funeral with her.

The best thing in the book is “Bomb Scare,” set in the early ’90s as the First Gulf War is just getting off the ground. Sixteen-year-old Scotty, who is rather repressed socially and sexually, has only one friend, Alex — and vice versa. Since they’re always together, through lack of other options, everyone at school assumes they must be gay. And maybe one or both of them is. But Alex, and his talk of guns and violence generally, isn’t the sort to give you much confidence. But maybe Cammie — who spends all her time having sex with every guy she can find and getting so drunk at parties they have to call 911 — can rescue Scotty from himself.

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Published in: on 11 February 2017 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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