Title: Killing and Dying
Author: Adrian Tomine
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
If there’s anything you take away from Tomine’s Killing and Dying, it’s that he has this incredible talent for conveying truth of life. Each and every one of these stories, although different in style and tone, is completely believable whether the protagonist is a 14-year-old girl who is trying to find something she’s good at or a middle aged drug dealer. Each character is so distinct and true to life, it’s like these characters could walk off the page. If there’s anything that I value most in any story I read, it’s believable characters. You can only full immerse yourself in an author’s world if their characters are real enough for the world they inhabit. In this case, the characters are situated in a world exactly like our own, and you’d never guess that they’re fictional.
These stories are all a quite sad. I don’t think there’s a single happy ending. Each of Tomine’s characters are facing hard life choices and they are often quite alone, even in the company of others. These aren’t happy stories, and you can’t enjoy them for any joyous reasons, but they invoke a discussion about life and the struggles that people face. The stories are supported by clean drawings, with little excess. Things are the way they are, without embellishment. It’s a very stark presentation of the stories. It allows the characters to speak for themselves, without the support of detailed drawings or excessive colours.
As a whole, it’s a beautiful and melancholic collection, very much worth reading.