Little Nothings: Uneasy Happiness by Lewis Trondheim

Little Nothings: Uneasy Happiness
by Lewis Trondheim
NBM Publishing, 2010

The third in a series by the prolific Trondheim – check out Mister O and Mister I if you’ve never read them. Yes, it’s a diary comic, but instead of the usual scribblings about an aimless and self-involved young cartoonist struggling for success, Trondheim is speaking from a more accomplished position and with much better artwork, beautiful yet simple watercolours, like the work of Chris Slane.

The subtext of many autobiographical comics is “I work really hard at drawing cartoons, why aren’t I famous yet?” which demonstrates a heartening belief in the American Dream if only a tenuous grasp on reality. The best New Zealand autobiographical comics (G.C.R.’s Bip Bip and Meredith Harris’s How to Understand Everything and Not Hate Yourself) are mostly concerned with analysing the dynamics of personal relationships, and are not cartoons about drawing cartoons. Maybe New Zealanders cartoonists lack the required ego. Maybe it’s a time-management thing.

Anyway, something else which distinguishes Trondheim’s work from most autobiographies is that he’s fully aware of his shortcomings as a human being (or, in these volumes, a sort of dour monobrowed eagle), and pokes fun at his neuroses and many awkward habits as he travels to exotic places and suffers in the presence of uncouth friends. He would probably make a very cool uncle.

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