Review by Win Wiacek
Comics and graphic narrative is often considered as if it’s one homogenous lump. As well as doing the medium a tremendous disservice it’s also incredibly misleading. People that haughtily declaim “Oh, We Never Watch Television”, usually mean they deplore whatever it is you’ve just mentioned, but that their own viewing habits somehow don’t count. And in a way they’re absolutely correct. For them the term is a group pejorative. But Strictly Come Dancing is not Eastenders is not Gogglebox is not Mastermind is not News 24 is not Game of Thrones. The medium is now a conveyance, the content is a product you can select or decline. Now try that phrase with the concept of comics.
Adrian Tomine tells short stories. They are about “Now”, and “I feel that…” and “How does…” His Spartan monochromatic drawing style works as an ideal camera for his elegiac documentaries. In an art form that too often relies on hyperbole and melodrama not just for content but for narrative technique, he eschews bravura for insight, telling little tales about the commonplace and the ordinary, showing just how extraordinary and poetic a “realer” life can be.
Sleepwalk presents sixteen vignettes of broken hearts and trampled dreams, of uncompromising self-recriminations and day-to-day reminiscences that make us all shrug and think “well, there’s always tomorrow…”
If you read Maus for the scale of Man’s capacity for evil or Stuck Rubber Baby for his ability to change and overcome, then Sleepwalk should access your capacity to empathise and endure. Few comics comment on the Human Condition without taking a strident position. Here’s one that asks you to choose your own, and choose it every single time. Find it. Buy it. Read it.