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Random information on the term “Shortcomings”:
Shortcomings is a graphic novel by cartoonist Adrian Tomine. Shortcomings was originally serialized in issues #9 through #11 of Tomine’s comic book series Optic Nerve before being released as a whole in 2007. It was also excerpted in Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13.
Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel Shortcomings is his only work that fully deals with themes of being a young Asian-American male in American society. Ben Tanaka, the story’s protagonist, lives in Berkeley, California with his politically active girlfriend Miko Hayashi. Ben is uninterested in Miko’s participation in the Asian-American cultural community, but he possesses a wandering eye—specifically for Caucasian women. When Miko begins to resent what she interprets as a rejection of both her Asian heritage and of herself, she moves to New York, at which point Ben disastrously attempts to pursue the type of woman he feels he really wants.
In Sandra Oh’s essay “Sight Unseen: Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve and the Politics of Recognition”., published by The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), Oh writes that Tomine, like his character Ben Tanaka, is more or less “pessimistic about the possibility of escaping the limitations of socially inscribed identities.” Throughout the novel we see this pessimism manifest in Ben’s general rejection and resentment of things that attempt to, in Ben’s words, “make some big ‘statement’ about race.” At the same time, Shortcomings does deal with racial issues, but it attempts to do so without resorting to clichés.