The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist: A Review

28 Jan

Everyone who knows me that I do respect the hell out of manga, usually for its philosophical and moral implications that mangas provide. I do find Alan Moore, Frank Miller, fascinating as comic book creators, but also like Harvey Pekar too. Adrian Tomine is a writer and graphic novelist I have never heard of before, so when I was gifted this for a birthday surprise, I was shocked, and taken off guard because the size of the memoir is the shape of a Moleskin notebook. And I love those too. It’s not what you usually see in a comic book at all, but this peaked my interest too. The paper is graph paper, as it almost lets you see Tomine’s drawing process too. Publishing by Drawn and Quarterly, a client publisher of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, and released in June 2020, this was a good way to approach my 35th birthday. 

            Like American Splendor, Adrian Tomine focuses on the cringe worthy fest of a writers life that made me happy that I never worked that hard to be accepted in the publishing and entertainment world. Adrian, the main character, is flawed, shy, and awkward that it makes the reading a little painful but it’s better once you continue past the first few chapters of his time at a comic-con. 

            Funny enough, cameo’s from Frank Miller are here, too, and seeing how the comic book literati interact with each other is not what you would expect. The horror of being insulted at a party of your peers is what you wouldn’t put in a book, but it does add to the realism that artists are flawed and they can be POS’s just like your high school bully.

            But if you pushed them, they wouldn’t physically attack you. Probably just make sure you never worked again. Idk I never got that far in the industry to tell you any secrets from that life either. That aside Tomine does provide some humor that is engaging but is minimalist but also not so miniscule that you would be overcrowded with images on a page. 

            Black and white drawing can be simple, but if the material is not engaging, it’s more for arts sake, I guess. The drawings are exquisite, and the pacing is slow, but lead up to a point when it can let you keep going. The chapters take place over a period of a year, but focusing on a single event in that year. 

            It’s like opening up a high school year book to see and reminisce what it was like in the old days. And I don’t really like that many American comic book artists anymore, but Tomine is akin to Pekar, as the everyday is important to him. Almost to a naval gazing like admiration, but still presenting an awkward chubby personality to latch onto. 

            It’s like opening a book from 2008, when being awkward was attractive. But then, maybe this is Tomine’s real life personality, as he was depressed, and the writing showed the true pain of a genius like Pekar. Like Pekar, when you hear him, it’s the same person as described on the page. With Tomine, nothing feels forced, and the dialogue is natural, as any mainstream comic book would not want at all. 

            But it seems that at 42, he has done so much, but even being on interviewed on Terry Gross’s NPR, is not as important, because he sees a dentist from an adjacent window. The conversation with Terry Gross is barely there, as his mind is racing, trying to calm himself down. But this is one example of how fame should not be a central stage in a creative person’s life. I see the loving detail put into the drawing and Adrian Tomine has the chops to draw. Having never heard of him before was even more of a treat approaching my 35th birthday. I consumed it in three hours, and it was well worth the time spent with Adrian Tomine’s “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist.”

            The only complaint is that it might be too hard for some so that they would have to squint, but it’s an interesting and painful, but can be re-read over and over again. I even wanted to doodle around in the graph paper.

            Final Rating: 4/5

-Louis Bruno is the author of more than 15 books, The Michael Project, Thy Kingdom Come, The Disintegrating Bloodline, Apocalypse Soldier, Hierarchy of Dwindling Sheep. His books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu. He can be found on Gab, https://gab.com/thereallouistbruno, Minds https://www.minds.com/lbruno8063/. His latest novel, his first ever fantasy novel, Come Home, Young One, is available on Lulu.com, and will be available on major chains at a later date.

Note from Louis: Thanks so much for reading my articles and being such a constant reader. Also, I want to stress that to keep my content ad free, please subscribe, donate, like, (and share the article if you can’t donate, all help is appreciated)to have access to top tier content, and also grow my page to help keep corporations mad all day. I am still shadow banned, but steadily growing my page, thanks to your support. 

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