*Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella — Recommended

Little Nothings reprints painted pages from Lewis Trondheim’s comic blog. He draws himself as a bird-headed man, with small, everyday observations: watching people at the train station, his failure at gardening, conversations with his kids, watching movies, travel.

Little Nothings cover
Little Nothings
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There’s a whole sequence about going on vacation to a tropical island. Instead of being jealous of him, though, it’s a comedy, as his paranoia about disease carried by mosquito prevents him from enjoying himself. The running gag becomes visual, with the puffs of insect repellent he applies for protection summing up his conflicting attitudes towards the locale.

I’m reminded of the work of Eddie Campbell, in the subject matter, the loose page construction without panel borders, and the lightweight but beautifully expressive linework. Trondheim’s figures, although looking like animals, are marvelously realistic in their attitudes and behaviors. The watercolors give everything a soft, comfortable feeling, like catching up with an old friend, swapping stories about how life is going.

There’s a bite to some of his incidents, though, as when he thinks of death when getting new pets, or the prevalence of memories from high school. That’s lightened by his moments of joy. A favorite strip is a wordless one in which Trondheim picks up a light saber toy and sneaks some time with it. His simple smile in the last panel, punctuated by a label that reads “age 41″, captures escapist fun.

Some of the events are historical, as when he wins a festival Grand Prize. His emotions are mixed, with pride, avoidance, indecision, tweaking the media, disappointment, and finding happiness in little things. Often, the last panel of his pages end on his face, providing space for reflection on what we’ve seen and thought.

He’s funny without appearing to work hard at it, which illustrates his skill and experience. It’s all very enjoyable without pressure, the kind of quiet work that doesn’t trumpet its genius, although displaying it nonetheless. A masterwork by a huge talent that’s still approachable by anyone.

A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher, who has made preview pages available. David Welsh and Greg McElhatton also have written good reviews of the book.


7 Responses to “*Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella — Recommended”

  1. Kaput and Zosky » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] on DVD. Trondheim has been interviewed about both. He has done many other books, including Little Nothings. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.) […]

  2. NBM Releases: Little Nothings 2, Miss Don’t Touch Me, Why I Killed Peter, First Time » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] second volume continues where the first left off, reprinting more material from Trondheim’s comic blog. The work is gorgeous, due to the […]

  3. NBM Favorite Titles » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] graphic novels. I second David’s recommendation of Lewis Trondheim’s journal comic Little Nothings. I also appreciated the unusual moody gender-bending of How […]

  4. Coming up in January » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Nothings: Uneasy Happiness (NOV09 0881, NBM, $14.95) is the third in the series of Lewis Trondheim’s journal comics. Read book samples at the NBM blog. Funny, well-observed, excellently cartooned stuff. […]

  5. Little Nothings: Uneasy Happiness » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] of comic strips first published as an online journal. (Third in a series, too; book one is The Curse of the Umbrella, book two The Prisoner Syndrome. All of the strip links below are from the NBM Blog, and the […]

  6. NBM Trondheim Discount Set Not Available Through Diamond » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Publishing is offering, in January, a discount set of the three Little Nothings books by Lewis Trondheim. As they describe it, “now in a specially priced banded set of the 3 […]

  7. Little Nothings: My Shadow in the Distance » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Trondheim returns with another gorgeous collection of diary webcomics — his fourth, after The Curse of the Umbrella, The Prisoner Syndrome, and Uneasy Happiness. Little Nothings: My Shadow in the […]




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