Graphic Novel Review: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine. Drawn & Quarterly, 2020. 9781770463950. 168pp.

This graphic memoir opens in Fresno in 1982 when young Adrian introduces himself to his new classmates, saying he likes drawing and collecting comics and wants to be a famous cartoonist. Everyone laughs when he says he wants to be like John Romita. Jerks. Cut to 1995 as he’s flying into San Diego for the Comic-Con, feeling successful. A bad review and some folks at a party soon bring him down, though that doesn’t stop him from heading back to the con the following year, which isn’t a better experience. This is a great view of the grind that is being a cartoonist: the parties, the bruised egos, signings with no lines, awkward interviews (including one on Fresh Air that I, in no way, think was as bad as Tomine does). There are small triumphs, of course, and much more awkwardness. My favorite bit is the page when Tomine visits his kid’s classroom and draws dog poop just to please the crowd. (He fails to please the teacher and the other parents.)

The look of the art is rougher than in most of Tomine’s graphic fiction, and is designed to look and feel like it was drawn directly on graph paper in a Moleskin notebook. I loved it from start to finish; though I’ve never achieved Tomine’s level of success, I’ve rarely felt so understood.


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