The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist’ by Adrian Tomine


‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist’, a graphic novel, by Adrian Tomine (2020) – 162 pages

But still…My clearest memories related to comics – about being a cartoonist – are the embarrassing gaffes, the small humiliations, the perceived insults…Almost everything else is either hazy or forgotten. It’s weird.” – Adrian Tomine

For Adrian Tomine, the humiliations start in grade school when he announces to the class that when he grows up he wants to be a famous cartoonist. The whole class breaks out in laughter and the boys in the class taunt and ridicule and shove and depants him during recess. A teacher has to ask another boy to sit with him at lunch.

On being a famous cartoonist, Daniel Clowes once said, “It’s like being a famous badminton player”. That line is the preface to this book.

The indignities continue through Adrian’s early days as a not-so-famous cartoonist as he tries to get established in the comic book industry. He goes to comic conventions to sign his books, and no one asks for his signature as other more famous graphic novelists such as Daniel Clowes get all the attention and adoration. Later Tomine is self-conscious when some of his fans see him eating pizza alone before he is to give a speech on cartooning.

‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist’ turns into a full-scale autobiography as Adrian meets his wife, gets married, and has children. By the end of the book you can imagine that Adrian Tomine is one of those major cartoonists who overshadows some of the talented but still unsure beginners.

All the humiliations Adrian puts up with get somewhat repetitive, and I wished that Tomine had some other points to make other than his jokey indignities. I preferred his previous graphic novel ‘Killing and Dying’ which had 6 separate stories and thus much more variety.

But I’m sure Adrian Tomine has the last laugh because besides his good-selling graphic novels he has done some covers for the, I suspect, well-paying New Yorker magazine, a couple of which I have included above.


Grade:    B



2 responses to this post.

  1. I love Tomine’s work and have this in my TBR pile. Shame it’s a little repetitive, but I shall still enjoy it. Faber have done a wonderful production job in the UK giving it good thick pages and rounded covers, closed with an elastic – so rather Moleskine-like.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Annabel,
      Apparently you and I enjoy graphic novels as a good change of pace from our heavy duty reading. I know there are a number of fiction readers who avoid them. To me, good cartoons can enhance the experience.



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