Little Nothings: My Shadow in the Distance (NBM)

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Lewis Trondheim plays up his own foibles to masterful comedic effect in this latest volume of diary comics.

 

 

 

128 pgs., color; $14.99
(W / A: Lewis Trondheim)
 

It's often said that everyone is the hero of his own life, and Lewis Trondheim is not shy about living up to this bit of folk wisdom: his Little Nothings series, of which My Shadow in the Distance is the fourth volume, invites the reader to follow him about his daily routine and share in his musings on matters both great and (mostly) small. Few could pull this off for long, but Trondheim has found the right tone to make the foibles of his alter ego (basically, a contemporary man with a bird's head) endearing rather than annoying. It also helps that he travels a lot, to really interesting places, and illustrates his comics with pen-and-watercolor sketches that give you enough detail to appreciate each specific locale. It also helps that Trondheim has a sense of humor about his own shortcomings, including his tendency to gripe about what only can be described as rich people's problems (someone on the plane has a better lunch than you do, and besides, the movie selection sucks) and his stereotypical expectations about the lands to which he travels (he's disappointed that a cowboy is wearing a baseball cap and that another cowboy is herding mules rather than cattle). Trondheim's character also retains a childlike delight in grossing the reader out—to say more than that would be too much of a spoiler.
 
In My Shadow in the Distance, Trondheim ventures to, among other places, the U.S., Canada, Germany, Prague, Argentina, and Mayotte. The latter is an overseas department of France, in the Mozambique Channel off the southeast coast of Africa. I love the fact that I had to look up a location mentioned in a comic, and I'm jealous of anyone who gets to travel to places I haven't even heard of (until reading about them), so that's a big part of the appeal of this book for me. Running in counterpoint to the travel narrative, there's a second story about Trondheim's health, which rather alarmingly starts with visual problems and comes to require sinus surgery—I'm guessing this second narrative is the source of the title, as the author is reminded that he is not immortal, and that enjoying a really pleasant lifestyle in a modern country does not guarantee that your life will be lived without pain.
 
You can see a preview of Little Nothings: My Shadow in the Distance at http://nbmpub.com/blog/author/trondheim/. | Sarah Boslaugh

 

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