Love and marriage

SCENES FROM AN IMPENDING MARRIAGE

By Adrian Tomine (Montréal, Canada: Drawn & Quarterly, 2011, 56 pp., $9.95, hard cover)

There are several things about Adrian Tomine’s “Scenes from an Impending Marriage” that mark it as a departure from his previous work. The 50-page comic documents Tomine and his (then) fiancé Sarah’s wedding planning process, making it his first autobiographical work.

While his previous comics were so incisive and truthful many felt that they had to be a window into Tomine’s soul, “Scenes” takes you into the artist’s apartment and his real-life conversations with Sarah in the months preceding their wedding. There are even redacted names, heightening the sense of realism.

At the same time, it’s also his least realistic work, style-wise. The feel is more “cartoony” than what he’s done previously and there is even a moment when he depicts himself and Sarah, essentially, as Peanuts characters.

It’s also remarkable how light-hearted and humorous ”Scenes” is. It takes some serious and stressful situations — like making decisions about who to invite and even examining the privilege of worrying about something like a wedding when people have more dire problems — and finds subtle humor in them. It also has some pretty straightforward laughs, most involving dealing with potential wedding DJs — one of whom loses a shot at the gig because his sample mix includes “Love Shack” and another who, despite being given an exact playlist by the couple, continues to try to convince them to play “Old Time Rock and Roll,” because “it seems like you have a lot of old rock and roll songs on your playlist.” The situations and writing do a lot of the work, but Tomine has always had a gift for visual humor (not so much of the “man slips on a banana peel” variety, more just that his comic “timing” is great).

“Scenes’” greatest accomplishment, though, might be how emotionally impactful it is.

Tomine develops the characters over the course of 50 short pages of what feels like simple humorous vignettes. We come to like them and enjoy spending time with them, but it’s not until the expertly executed epilogue that we realize just how emotionally invested we’ve become.

 

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Correction:

Accuracy is fundamental in journalism. In the Aug. 4 – 10, 2011 issue of the Nichi Bei Weekly, the article entitled “Love and Marriage” erroneously named Adrian Tomine’s book “Scenes from an Impending Wedding.” It is “Scenes from an Impending Marriage.” The Nichi Bei Weekly regrets the error.

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