Killing and Dying

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Killing and Dying Small Biz Saturday 2015
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Product Description

"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 creators of contemporary comics but as one of the great voices of modern American literature. His gift for capturing emotion and intellect resonates here: the weight of love and its absence, the pride and disappointment of family, the anxiety and hopefulness of being alive in the twenty-first century.
"Amber Sweet" shows the disastrous impact of mistaken identity in a hyper-connected world; "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture" details the invention and destruction of a vital new art form in short comic strips; "Translated, from the Japanese" is a lush, full-color display of storytelling through still images; the title story, "Killing and Dying", centers on parenthood, mortality, and stand-up comedy. In six interconnected, darkly funny stories, Tomine forms a quietly moving portrait of contemporary life.
Tomine is a master of the small gesture, equally deft at signaling emotion via a subtle change of expression or writ large across landscapes illustrated in full color. Killing and Dying is a fraught, realist masterpiece.

Editorial Reviews

A collection of six previously published graphic stories of life's bittersweet struggles, from illustrator/writer Tomine (New York Postcards, 2014, etc.). The true magic of sequential art comes in the spaces between panels—where readers draw connections between separate, evolving images to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts—and here Tomine proves himself a wizard. In the title tale, a stuttering teenager pursues a dream of professional comedy while her supportive mother subtly progresses from unremarkable to brittle hair to bandanna and cane to absence—cancer running its course via signifiers and suggestion. The elegiac "Translated, from the Japanese" follows a mother and son's journey from Japan to California to rejoin the boy's estranged father, and while the panels—hewing closely to the mother's point of view—contain no more than an arm of any central character, the averted gaze makes the mother's discomfort palpable. Most playfu l is "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as ‘Hortisculpture,' " in which a dissatisfied landscaper dreams of taking the world by storm by growing plants inside bulky sculptures—an idea met with underwhelming support from his wife and outright derision from everyone else. The story appears as a series of comic strips, including periodic "Sunday funnies" installments, as though the urbane wit of the New Yorker had infiltrated daily newspapers. The put-upon, schlubby landscaper and the regular punch lines of the comic-strip format serve as a nice counterweight to the (beautifully, hauntingly depicted) angst and melancholy pervading much of the collection, which is rounded out by an adult-film star's unwitting doppelgänger, two addicts wrestling with love and damage, and a brooding brute who gains regular, secret access to a stranger's home. Graphically, Tomine excels at imbuing every figure—big or small—with individualized traits (hands on hips, c ocked shoulder), giving the sense that the story's focus could shift deep into the background and still find rich, full life. Achingly human and divinely rendered. Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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