photo & text by nacrowe
relationships are complicated. ive always felt that there is something intrinsically narcissistic about ROMANTIC LOVE in general given that you pursue someone because of how they make you feel. when i started reading about BUDDHISM years ago before i moved to JAPAN this point was brought up again and again in different texts and it has long stayed with me.
the graphic novel SHORTCOMINGS (DRAWN & QUARTERLY, 2007) by ADRIAN TOMINE is an extended meditation on the nature of a crumbling relationship and the undergirding reasons / desires / projections / obsessions that make breaking up so difficult. in essence there is that shared IDENTITY and sublimated EGO in that of another that is shattered and discarded. to some extent reading about the protagonist BEN TANAKA and his self-obsession felt like the dialogue in a WOODY ALLEN or INGMAR BERGMAN film where you know this clinging nature is only pushing the object of his desire away. he is so self-concerned and incapable of addressing the needs of his partner MIKO that he is basically manufacturing a self-fulfilling prophecy for his own alienation.
i think one particularly interesting aspect of SHORTCOMINGS is how it examines inter-racial relationships from a CONSERVATIVE ASIAN perspective. specifically the ingrained CHAUVINIST notion that how somehow dating an ASIAN woman is seen as less exciting or revered than that of a CAUCASIAN woman for an ASIAN man. this idea of a "white prize." that somehow if a CAUCASIAN male dates an ASIAN female that something is amiss but not the other way around. the graphic novel definitely dives deep into notions of TOKENISM, ORIENTALISM and POST-COLONIALIST thought in a very organic manner.
TOMINE is a deft writer who has a profound ability to subtly expose uncomfortable truths in an organic, unforced manner. i am looking forward to become more acquainted with his writings moving forward and highly suggest SHORTCOMINGS to anyone interested in thought-provoking writing, irrespective of an interest in comics or graphic novels. it is that good.