The hurting

Killing and Dying

The Sacramento-born Optic Nerve author (and New Yorker illustrator) Adrian Tomine has a new graphic novel—well, a collection of stories, actually, in Killing and Dying: Six Stories by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly, $22.95). “A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture” explores a gardener's dream to create a “vital new artform”—a dream that is, in turn, mocked, derided and questioned by others. The book's title story examines parental dynamics and their effect on a stuttering, would-be high school comic, and in “Amber Sweet,” a college student discovers—thanks to the Internet and the bullying of her classmates—that she looks just like a famous porn star. Throughout, the painfully funny stories exhibit, wonderfully, Tomine's signature moodiness and emotionally exacting attention to detail.