- Posted by Johanna on August 28, 2011 at 10:20 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Lewis Trondheim
- PUBLISHER: NBM; $14.99 US
Trondheim’s comics differ from the usual online journal type in three significant ways, though:
- They’re watercolor, which make them feel more like “art”, less like something jotted on a napkin.
- Trondheim draws himself with a bird head, which makes events less about him, more universal.
- They’re about him going places and doing things. There’s lots of travel in these strips, providing unique viewpoints and plenty of attractive visual content.
Trondheim travels to many places I’d never think to go, so there’s a lot of enjoyment-by-proxy in these comics, wondering if I’d feel the same way or notice the same things if I visited. Probably not, given his somewhat crotchety attitude — which also makes the comics funny in a curmudgeonly way. I’ve never gone up the Empire State Building or seen a French couple arrested for shoplifting, but I could relate to a tourist experience where everything seems to be standing in line, or wanting to eavesdrop to hear about someone else’s issues. There are also the odd little facts he puts in, which makes it feel educational.
Some of my favorites are those which revolve around packing for air travel, where invariably Trondheim forgets something and gnashes his teeth, figuratively, over it. His car trip through the desert of the Western U.S., the setting for a series of comics, was also particularly eye-opening. At the end, his measurement of a trip by whether or not he’s gained weight was sympathetic; I felt embarrassed to note I do the same thing.
One of the longer sequences in this book involves a sinus issue Trondheim experiences while traveling, which plays into the hypochondria in all of us, and the fear that we might be in a country where we don’t speak the language and have a crisis to handle. Don’t worry, it all turns out ok, and one strip where medical scans show slices of his head includes a very neat image of the kind that can be only be done in comics, of his head as though made up of slices of baloney. And as I said before, it’s all gorgeous, in beautiful, subtle colors.
You can find out more about much of Trondheim’s work in English at NBM’s website. The publisher provided a review copy.