“Shortcomings”, Adrian Tomine's first long-form graphic novel, is the story of Ben Tanaka, a confused, obsessive Japanese American male in his late twenties, and his cross-country search for contentment (or at least the perfect girl). Along the way, Tomine tackles modern culture, sexual mores, and racial politics with brutal honesty and lacerating, irreverent humor, while deftly bringing to life a cast of painfully real antihero characters. A frequent contributor to “The New Yorker”, Tomine has acquired a cult-like fan following and has earned status as one of the most widely acclaimed cartoonists of our time.  (Summary and book cover courtesy of


Honestly I found this graphic novel quite bland and I didn’t feel like there was much of an ending.  Frankly the main character Ben is a jerk and doesn’t have humor or any other redeeming feature to keep it balanced.  The story seems fairly standard: a fighting couple takes a break and one decides to move on.  Tomine just happened to through in some racial aspects and an interesting side friend to prolong the story.  It may be a realistic to life, but it’s missing something as a book.  In sum, I liked the artwork, but was very unimpressed with the storyline.

Rating: 2 stars!

Who should read it? I’d say skip it – there are better graphic novels out there.