Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Tomine’

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



‘Killing and Dying’ by Adrian Tomine – Comic Stories for Adults

‘Killing and Dying’ by Adrian Tomine   (2015) – 121 pages


Looking at the lists for the best graphic novels of 2015, ‘Killing and Dying’ was far and away the one most frequently mentioned and thus presumably most gift-worthy.  But how do you give a Christmas gift to someone that is called ‘Killing and Dying’?  Am I the only one who thinks this is not exactly the festive Christmas spirit?  It would have been so easy to call the book something else.  The actual story ‘Killing and Dying’ is not at all what its title suggests.

So instead I gave this graphic novel to myself.   Rachel Cooke in the Guardian called Adrian Tomine the Alice Munro of comics, high praise indeed.  One similarity to Munro is that ‘Killing and Dying’ is actually divided into six graphic short stories rather than being a graphic novel.  The qualities that distinguish Adrian Tomine from other graphic writers are the off-beat originality of each of these stories as well as the emotional depth he achieves within each story.   This is one graphic novel I would not recommend for children under the age of sixteen, not because of any comic violence but instead because of its adult sensibilities.

Of the six stories in ‘Killing and Dying’, two of them are definitely my favorites.  The first story, ‘A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture’, is a humorous yet poignant take on a guy fulfilling his artistic inclination despite the skepticism of his wife and nearly everyone else.  The title story, ‘Killing and Dying’, is about a teenage girl who attempts to become a stand-up comedian much to the chagrin of especially her father.  There does seem to be a common thread between these two stories of individuals pursuing their dreams despite their dismissal by their family and perhaps the general public.

tumblr_ntlgnfuDzx1qav5oho1_250However the other four stories totally defy expectations.  I suppose it was a case of me becoming so enamored of those two above stories that I was a bit disappointed when the other stories were so completely different.  Perhaps I’m underestimating the impact of a story like ‘Amber Sweet’ about a young woman who finds herself mistaken for an internet porn star.

As far as the visuals go, one only needs to know that Adrian Tomine has done several covers for the New Yorker.  Enough said.

The comics in ‘Killing and Dying’ have a literary subtlety that is not usually associated with comics.    These are comics for adults.


Grade:   B+


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