Adrian Tomine first began publishing his work while still in his teens. Optic Nerve, the series he is perhaps most widely known for, began as a seven part independently published title, before being taken up by the publishing company Drawn & Quarterly. The series then continued for twelve more issues, though the numbering restarts at issue #1 after this transition. The first seven issues were later collected in the anthology 32 Stories. Issues 9 - 11 of the second series were later collected in a single volume entitled Shortcomings. Issue #14 won Tomine the 2016 Eisner Award for Best Short Story. The series is also notable for the creator's insistence that the letters page include a broad and more honest range of communication from readers, including some scathing criticism.
Tomine has been criticized in the past for his handling of racial issues, as the majority of his characters are white, and because of his tendency to depict himself in a racially ambiguous manner.
Alongside his work in comics, Tomine has completed several other illustrative works, including some of the artwork for the Eels album Electro-shock Blues.
Adrian Tomine was born in Sacramento, California, but currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife. His parents divorced while he was still young, and he has a brother who is eight years older. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English Literature.