Adrian Tomine’s black-and-white illustrations in Shortcomings at times seem static … and I think that’s to a purpose.
Look at the protagonist’s girlfriend, Miko Hayaski, on page 19, after she and Ben have had another in what likely has been a series of low-grade disappointments (not quite at the energy level of an argument) throughout their relationship. She leans against the wall, in her underwear, and asks Ben if he wants to go to bed. The space behind her — presumably their bedroom — is in complete darkness.
He replies he’s not tired. She smiles, and says, “Well, we don’t have to go to sleep right away.” She looks soft and vulnerable, but willing. Her meaning is abundantly clear.
Still Ben declines, contending weakly he has some newly arrived DVDs to watch.
The next panel shows Miko, dark hair, white T-shirt, against a blank white wall. She’s frowning, shoulders now slumped, defeated, and we can’t really tell if she’s looking at Ben or at the floor. Not that it matters now.
In the next panel, she’s turned away, walking back into the bedroom, alone. Back into the darkness.
Read my first post on this book here.