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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

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By Adrian Tomine. Published by Faber & Faber, originally published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Hardcover, 168 pages, B&W, 2020. 


What happens when a childhood hobby grows into a lifelong career? The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, Adrian Tomine's funniest and most revealing foray into autobiography, offers an array of unexpected answers. When a sudden medical incident lands Tomine in the emergency room, he begins to question if it was really all worthwhile: despite the accolades and opportunities of a seemingly charmed career, it's the gaffes, humiliations, slights, and insults he's experienced (or caused) within the industry that loom largest in his memory.

Tomine illustrates the amusing absurdities of how we choose to spend our time, all the while mining his conflicted relationship with comics and comics culture. But in between chaotic book tours, disastrous interviews, and cringe-inducing interactions with other artists, life happens: Tomine fumbles his way into marriage, parenthood, and an indisputably fulfilling existence. A richer emotional story emerges as his memories are delineated in excruciatingly hilarious detail.

In a bold stylistic departure from his award-winning Killing and Dying, Tomine distills his art to the loose, lively essentials of cartooning, each pen stroke economically imbued with human depth. Designed as a sketchbook complete with place-holder ribbon and an elastic band, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist shows an acclaimed artist at the peak of his career.

Praise for The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

Enormously brave and heartening.

  Youth Services Book Review

[Tomine's] final epiphany that his love for his wife and daughters has given him true joy elevates The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist to a profound meditation on the relationship between creativity, work and fulfillment.

  Winnipeg Free Press

Tomine is a funny writer and an even funnier artist. If you were ever interested in the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into comics creation, this book is a window to that world.

  Toledo Public Library, Great Comics of 2020

A hilarious and revealing glimpse into Tomine’s life specifically and, more generally, the life of anyone working in a creative field today.

  Graeme McMillan, The Hollywood Reporter

In his latest book, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, Adrian Tomine turns himself into the everyman of writerly mortification [with] brilliant and toe-curling detail.

  Rachel Cooke, The Guardian

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist is another laugh-out-loud book with self-worth issues. Here Tomine looks back at his outwardly successful career as a cartoonist via anecdotes that take in deserted book signings, mortifying radio spots and the perils of taking a cruise with Neil Gaiman, in a feast of self-deprecation.

  The Guardian, Best of 2020

Adrian Tomine’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist made my pandemic times far better than they would have been otherwise, at least during the hour I spent reading it and laughing helplessly.

  Hillary Brown, The Comics Journal

The acclaim Tomine’s work has received is a testament to his talent as a chronicler of the human condition. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist shows that the secret of his ability starts with being veracious with his own heart.

  Spectrum Culture

The perfect gift for comic fans or anyone trying to find their place in their chosen industry.

  Shondaland, Best Books of 2020

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. 

  Zack Ruskin, San Francisco Chronicle

A wonderful book about feeling morbidly self-conscious while also longing to connect with other people, even though it doesn’t always—i.e. usually doesn't—work out the way one wants it to. It perfectly captures what it's like to be a cartoonist, and also what it's like to be a person.

  Roz Chast, author of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

A painfully honest and often hilarious view behind the curtain of the 'glamorous' life of a cartoonist. Tomine draws on life's stresses, embarrassments, and achievements as he goes through an evolution of self-awareness. A must-read for Tomine fans and all aspiring cartoonists.

  Richard McGuire, author of Here

The self-deprecating tradition of successful cartoonists writing autobio is very much in evidence here... [Tomine is] undeniably great with a punchline, and this is more apparent now that he is writing about his own life rather than one of his fictional characters.

  The Quietus

Tomine takes a biting tone to the comics industry in a snarky, ultimately sincere, graphic memoir that looks back on decades of single-minded devotion to creating innovative comics, while also navigating the mercurial indie comics publishing scene.

  Publishers Weekly 2020 Graphic Novel Critics Poll

[The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist is] acutely, almost painfully funny—proving even a literary comics genius can still deliver great laughs—elevated by a moving, philosophical close.

  Publishers Weekly, Best Books of 2020

I don’t think Adrian Tomine set out to release a book about isolation into a world defined by it, but that’s what he did. Short, funny, and poignant, this is the sort of comic that can be enjoyed by anyone in your family who can read.

  Put This On, 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Transportingly funny... but it’s the vulnerable turn Tomine takes when a medical scare grants fresh perspective that truly got me.

  Meg Lemke, Publishers Weekly Summer Reads Top 10

This merciless memoir delivers laughter with a wince, to the point of tears.

  Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Tomine's talent in communicating the intimate, minute details of his life only serves to make them universal. Even more so in 2020.

  Pop Matters, Best Non-Fiction of 2020

The world is full of "successful" people who are both miserable and miserable to be around. With [The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist] Tomine sheds light on how those people came to be that way – and why it needn't be so.

  Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic

Tomine explores with the precise touch of a dentist gazing perpetually into a mouth, doing the crucial work of the quotidian. It’s lonely work, indeed, but by dwelling for so long and so thoroughly in the loneliness of his art, Tomine brings us close, terribly close, to the halitosis of being human, to the emotions we might prefer to keep at a distance.

  Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Paris Review

The design alone of Adrian Tomine's The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist was enough to pique the interest for this stationary and notebook nerd, but I also enjoyed Tomine's wry approach to success.

  Panel Patter, Favourite Comics of 2020

A boisterous and heart-meltingly tender tale.

  O, The Oprah Magazine

Tomine, now considered a master of the graphic novel form, returns in an autobiographical mode, in a book that lets vent the rage and fragility that are always just beneath the surface of his pristine drawings.

  The New York Times, 100 Notable Books of 2020

An unforeseen event near the end unlocks a flood of emotion unlike anything Tomine has expressed before on paper. What starts out as playful self-deprecation becomes his most heartbreaking work to date.

  The New York Times, Best Graphic Novels of 2020

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.... The cumulative effect of Loneliness is mesmerizing, funny, and deeply honest.

  Ilana Masad, NPR

Adrian Tomine has gone from “the boy wonder of mini-comics” (per Daniel Clowes) to master of the form... The 26 vignettes here trace a lifetime of neuroses and humiliations, from Fresno, 1982, to Brooklyn, 2018, blurring the line between character trait and occupational hazard [with] artful minimalism.

  Ed Park, The New York Times Book Review

This hilarious, moving, and raw autobiographical collection centers on the pursuit of being an artist. It’s painfully relatable to anyone who makes comics or art of any kind. Tomine’s easy line work and smart humor is on display here. This is probably our favorite work that the cartoonist has released yet.

  Nerdist, Best Comics of 2020

Over the career he reflects on, Tomine has perfected stitching together a story in brief sketches, and his pacing here is immaculate.

  Montreal Review of Books

A charming, occasionally maddening ledger of our profession's unrelenting parade of indignities.

  Michael DeForge, author of Leaving Richard's Valley

In this deeply self-aware, darkly funny memoir, Tomine recounts the highlights of his career through a series of cringe-worthy encounters, and readers hardly need to be a world-famous cartoonist to relate.

  Malaka Gharib, author of I Was Their American Dream

What Tomine is exploring is the dichotomy between how we see ourselves and how we are (or are not) seen…. We are each alone in our heads. Yet the faith of memoir, or autofiction, is that this is what connects us: the expression of our humanity.

  David Ulin, The Los Angeles Times

So many memoirs are about overcoming adversity. We cringe, cry, and clap for the author, knowing eventually something will resolve. Tomine, who is perhaps the John Cheever of comics (in the way they both excavate the human heart), shows how our lives are less tidy than that common memoir arc.

  Literary Hub

I couldn’t put this book down. Tomine’s vulnerability and willingness to share the cringiest moments of his life (ranging from juicy to uproarious to deeply healing) are a reminder to be braver, because what have you got to lose?

  Lisa Hanawalt, author of Coyote Doggirl

A hilarious, frequently cringe-inducing masterpiece from a fearless artist at the height of his powers.

  Library Journal, Starred Review

From a less skilled creator, the litany of awkward encounters and humiliations depicted here 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 transformed into an insightful and profound vulnerability.

  Library Journal, Best Graphic Novels of 2020

Subtle, provocative, and sharply drawn.

  Kirkus, Starred Review

Brilliantly paced, Adrian Tomine’s latest graphic novel takes readers from discomfort to laughter in just a few panels.

  Megan Liberty, Hyperallergic

[Tomine's novel] alternates between laugh out loud funny and cringemaking, but throughout, you’ll feel both empathy for Tomine’s experiences and intense relief that these stories didn’t happen to you.

  The Hollywood Reporter, Best Comics of 2020

Touching, funny and sad, this memoir is for fans of Tomine, of course, but also for anybody who has ever fumbled their way through work and life.

  The Globe & Mail, Spring Books Preview

The book is a catalog of decades’ worth of slights and indignations that come with being a giant in a tiny corner of the literary world, and it’s painfully funny.

  Forbes, Best Graphic Novels of 2020

In The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, Adrian Tomine explores all the painful slights of the creative life while adding a big dose of heart at the end. Points to Tomine for one of the year’s best packages, as well.

  Comics Beat, 50 Best Comics of 2020

This volume is one of the funniest publications from 2020, but what makes it truly remarkable is how it rises above its deft sense of humor to approach the sublime in discussing careers and family in modern America.

  ComicBook.Com, Holiday Gift Guide

In this exquisitely rendered, prodigiously articulated work, Tomine proves again why he’s still that “famous cartoonist.”

  Booklist, Starred Review

In this heartfelt and beautifully crafted work, Adrian Tomine presents the most honest and insightful portrait you will ever see of an industry that I can no longer bear to be associated with.

  Alan Moore, author of Jerusalem
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