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Scenes From An Impending Marriage
posted January 20, 2011

imageCreator: Adrian Tomine
Publishing Information: Drawn & Quarterly, hardcover, 40 pages, February 2011, $9.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781770460348 (ISBN13), 1770460349 (ISBN10)

As you've probably suspected, Scenes From An Impending Marriage is certainly the most adorable comics effort to stroll down the red carpet in quite some time. Writing critically of it feels like it would be a faux-pas on the level of refusing a gift -- literally; most of what's contained within its covers are the comics that were in a different form the actual wedding gift from the happy couple to their assorted guests. Tomine uses a stripped-down style here, attractive and lean; it's partly reminiscent of some of the essay comics he published in his early mini-comics and partly the obvious end result of years of cartoon-making since. The cartoonist employs this body of techniques to depict tableaux from the various wedding planning absurdities that crop up between I will and I do. Each is affectionately relayed, even the ones involving people that might be unpleasant to meet on different terms. It all comes together in the end and because we know this, everyone else is forgiven.

The serene and lovely thing about Scenes From An Impending Marriage is that the couple seems blissfully united against these various not-exactly-earth-shattering obstacles, to a degree that their seeming compatibility almost all by itself puts a smile on your face. You're happy for them to have a relationship that can be depicted in that way, and additionally happy for the cartoonist to be coming from such a position of apparent joy that this kind of art is the result. Most fans don't get enough of Adrian Tomine to suit them, and I include Myself in their number. This isn't Tomine's fault: he is very earnestly focused on making comics according to certain standards he has for art and certain issues he wants to see explored there. These impulses are a large part of what makes him worth reading in the first place. But that means a long time between comics, and an even longer time -- somewhere between 12 years and forever -- to see him work in a different style, say, or towards an effect far removed from his grim, taut, bitterly humorous portrayals of human weakness. The nicest thing I can say about Scenes From An Impending Marriage is that it satisfies an itch I thought I might never see scratched. Let's hope the marriage lasts forever, but that there are more such works in Adrian Tomine's future. If this is all we get, that's okay, too.