I bought this book off the back of an entertaining interview with the author in The Observer a couple of weeks ago, and I’m incredibly glad I did.
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist is a memoir of sorts, with Tomine literally sketching vignettes of his life as he persevered to become a renowned cartoonist.
The book begins with Tomine as a comic-loving kid being mocked by classmates for his obsessive interest in comic books. We then follow him through his early years, as he attends Comic Con for the first time, and has some of his work mercilessly mocked by fellow authors that he aspires to become.
Tomine “redacts” certain people’s real names throughout the book – probably for their benefit rather than anyone else’s. But even if you weren’t an aspiring cartoonist working to join the right publisher, or just not be mistaken for a better-known writer, there is so much truth in everything Tomine writes about.
There’s the continued imposter syndrome that Tomine exhibits when he’s doing book signings or live events, and the shame he feels when, in one example, he hear’s a couple on a neighbouring restaurant table discussing his work, oblivious to his presence.
The book is full of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, such as when his food allergies collide with a potential date he’s having. You almost can’t bring yourself to read what happens.
I wasn’t really aware of Tomine before I read this – you don’t really need to be. I am, however, going to make up for that and get into some of his previous work.
But this is masterly book about being an author and a writer, and is thoroughly recommended.
I should also say that the beautifully designed hardback is wonderful. The whole book is meant to feel like a square-lined Moleskine notebook. The book has a faux leather cover, with elasticated band and page ribbon as you’d get in an actual notebooks. It does almost feel as though you’ve picked up the working draft of the book that Tomine has drawn.
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist is out now in harback.