The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

Adrian Tomine. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-77046-395-0
Eisner Award–winner Tomine (Killing and Dying) depicts choice vignettes from a decades-long cartooning career in this ruefully funny, often deliberately mortifying memoir. In the early 1980s in his California elementary school, Tomine presents as an obsessive, socially inept comics nerd, earning him instant ostracism from his classmates. But by his 20s, he makes a name for himself in alternative comics circles—Daniel Clowes, whom Tomine credits as an influence (and gets mistaken for frequently) refers to him as a “Boy Wonder.” That does not protect him from negative reviews, poorly attended signings, weird or hostile readers, casual racism, and other ego-deflating encounters, punctuated with lit- and comics-scene cameos (with tantalizingly scribbled-out names). In one especially humiliating but hilarious episode, Tomine hangs out with an attractive young journalist who has just interviewed him, when sudden gastrointestinal distress quashes any romantic possibility. Later, as a happily married father of two approaching middle-age in brownstone Brooklyn, a medical scare puts into perspective Tomine’s “glass half-empty” focus, and he reflects on the value of memories of his young daughters over his usual predilection to rue “small humiliations.” Graph paper backgrounds create a sense of peeking into a diary consisting of Tomine’s graceful drawings and precise lettering. Tomine reveals himself again a master of self-satire as his formidably healthy artist’s ego and attendant anxiety butt up against a largely indifferent world. This merciless memoir delivers laughter with a wince, to the point of tears. (June)
Reviewed on : 02/26/2020
Release date: 05/26/2020
Genre: Comics
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