... self-aware, funny, and ultimately a poignant account of the realities of Tomine's chosen profession ... darkly comic ... moments in his professional life, are relatable because of Tomine's willingness to be honest about his mistakes and shortcomings. But they also work because they're often suffused with humor ... the insularity and titular loneliness of the story has a greater resonance during this time of social distancing and isolation ... It's Tomine's gift to be able to convey so much in his black ink line drawings on white graph paper. He's always been able to transcend the everyday and the mundane into moments of connection and emotional resonance ... one of Tomine's best works, and that's saying something.
... full of self-deprecating, self-aware humor ... Indeed, what Tomine has managed to do so well here is reveal something that few artists are able to discuss without sounding unaware or falsely humble: the incredibly hard, exhausting, and often can't-see-the-trees-for-the-forest kind of work involved in building a career in the arts, where there is too little funding, an overabundance of egos running rampant, and layers upon layers of gatekeeping. By using humor and framing his trajectory via professional and personal setbacks and moments of mortification, the cumulative effect of Loneliness is mesmerizing, funny, and deeply honest. Tomine refuses to dwell in the lie that much artistic success publicly perpetuates (whether or not by choice) that it's always fun, or that it even feels like what many of us imagine success to be. It's work — work that Tomine is conscious of being lucky enough to be able to keep doing, and there have been perks here and there for sure, but work nonetheless. No one made it easy for Tomine to get to where he is — least of all himself.
...the key to Tomine’s fiction is the rage and fragility beneath the pristine compositions ... Constructed in a loose, appealingly humble style on a Moleskine-like grid, the 26 vignettes here trace a lifetime of neuroses and humiliations ... Though Tomine’s fictional characters aren’t always recognizably Asian, when playing himself, he can’t escape the prejudices of those who see him as the Other.
... the material here brings us directly in touch with the cartoonist’s obsessive point of view ... his self-analysis can make us squirm ... It’s a subjectivity similar to that of, say, Ben Lerner or Karl Ove Knausgaard, in which the artist both is and is not the character ... It’s a complex weave, made more pronounced by the artifice of the form. Tomine makes this explicit throughout the book ... It’s tempting to critique Tomine’s perspective as a little close, a little small, especially at a moment beset by crises. Who has time for self-doubt when the world is coming to an end? But I want to make a counterargument. What better time to look in the mirror than when every one of us is at risk? ... the faith of memoir, or autofiction, is that this is what connects us: the expression of our humanity. For Tomine, that means showing us his process; the book ends as he sits down to write it, in a graphpaper sketchbook the design of the book you’re holding re-creates. It’s a full-circle move in the broadest sense, and it leaves us in the middle, where Tomine is, looking backward in order to look ahead.
Adrian Tomine is a master of the short, graphic vignette that leaves an impression ... The book reads as a series of remembrances, heightened by a design scheme that mimics a graph-paper sketchbook ... Certain scenes are excruciatingly awkward and funny ... Tomine’s pacing — brilliant throughout and especially here— offers the reader just enough to feel his range of emotions, taking us from loneliness and discomfort to laughter in just a few panels.
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist doesn't feature Tomine's signature understatement. Instead, it's a comic in that other sense: he's trying (and succeeding) to be funny ... the memoir is a sequence of Tomine's worst comics experiences. There's something perversely entertaining for a memoir about the career of its successful author to stay so relentlessly focused on failures. It turns...into a kind of anti-memoir, an extended comic strip gag ... But it also quietly undermines that self-deprecation ... Though most of the litany of humiliations might resonate with any reader, some are specifically racist microaggressions ... Happily, even Tomine's artificially negative premise buckles under the weight of his happiness.
...while The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist adopts the character of autobiography, it is predominantly a comedy of middle-class neurosis ... Loneliness comes in the form of a facsimile sketchbook, which is conceptually a bit unsettling - did I steal this from Adrian Tomine's house? I think it's supposed to be more like Tomine is beckoning you closer for special access to his unmediated innermost feelings, although the drawing of it isn't actually a great departure from what has come before ... Now, Tomine himself is the focus of comedy - and he's not averse to playing it broad. Put him on a nice walk with a pretty girl, and the poor guy's overcome with diarrhea ... However, good as the jokes may be, Loneliness aspires to be something else ... we understand that the structure of the book is not just 'the book', but Tomine physically recounting to himself, via drawing, all that he recalls of his cartooning life, for the benefit of understanding himself, and that is why the book is published in the form of a sketchbook, and: clever! It's clever ... It's also very sentimental - and, in a way, conservative. At the core of this book, is a great longing for an elusive normality.
...a quick read, a series of amusing experiential trifles, until an existential gut-punch is delivered to Tomine in the final piece ... This book is rendered in black-and-white on blue-lined graph paper, which works to reinforce the artist’s-journal conceit, as does the physical format of a journal itself. Tomine is a master colorist, though, and I miss the warmth of his palette, even as my brain tells me how well these stories are working without it.
Scenes of empty bookstore signings and people mistaking Tomine for fellow cartoonist Daniel Clowes give root to his chronic impostor syndrome, while other anecdotes from the book border on being too excruciating to believe ... The poetry of arguments, themes of alienation, a viscerally rapid descent from humiliation to fury — all the things that have come to signify Tomine’s work are abundantly present in his memoir as well. Further binding the material is Tomine’s stark, gorgeously realistic illustrations. Taken together, these links reveal the ways in which he has both drawn on himself and, quite literally, drawn himself into his work.
Tomine casts a cynical and unforgiving eye on his fragile ego, the dubious rewards of his successful career and the absurdity of the comic-book industry ... Each quietly crushing episode is lifted by Tomine’s witty, self-effacing inner monologue. He offers up his most personal humiliations with brutal honesty and a wry smile, artfully pulling you into his neurotic inner world ... He has an incredible ability to capture universal fears in a handful of minimal panels – the fear of failure, the uncertainty of what we dedicate our careers to, and the everyday terror of navigating our lives.
... funny, bracingly self-deprecating ... From a less skilled creator, the litany of awkward encounters might have become repetitive; instead, Tomine’s mortifying misadventures become funnier and more emotionally resonant in the latter part of this memoir, as professional success and a growing family find the anger and anxiety that ruled the author’s early years transform into an insightful and profound vulnerability ... A hilarious, frequently cringe-inducing masterpiece from a fearless artist at the height of his powers.
... what Tomine highlights here, with self-deprecating vulnerability and humble humor on pages of graph paper, are, well, the many failures ... In this exquisitely rendered, prodigiously articulated work, Tomine proves again why he’s still that 'famous cartoonist.'
... ruefully funny, often deliberately mortifying ... 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.
... an understated yet illuminating graphic memoir full of insights on the creative process and the struggles of defining 'success' in the world of comics and graphic novels ... Subtle, provocative, and sharply drawn—a portrait of the perpetually dissatisfied artist.