Review: ‘Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella’
Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella
NBM/ComicsLit, 2007, $14.95
Trondheim is one of the major comics creators of France, responsible for the Dungeon series, Mr. O, and A.L.I.E.E.N., among others. At least, that’s what NBM tells me – I have to admit that I’ve never read his stuff before.
Little Nothings is a daily diary comic, much like James Kochalka’s American Elf – but the book doesn’t say where Little Nothings originally appeared (online? In a newspaper? On paper airplanes wafted through Trondheim’s neighborhood?). I’m assuming that it did appear somewhere, originally, but there’s no reason to think that – it’s possible that it was done as a project to be published for the first time as a book.
So each page of Little Nothings apparently represents one day, though none of the strips are dated, so it’s not always clear if days are missing (or sequences changed for whatever reason). And a couple of the strips seem to be multiple pages for one day — or maybe it’s just that he’s thinking and cartooning about the same thing for several days straight.
(None of that matters terribly much, though; it’s just that I’m obsessive. I think about these things far too much; it’s a sickness, I know.)
The strips are very personal in that they’re completely focused on Trondheim as a person; each strip is about some moment or sequence of events that happened to him that day. Some of them are about his professional life – attending conventions, getting work done, going to meet with publishers – but much more of it is just regular day-to-day life.
Trondheim is married and has two children; they live near Paris in a house large and suburban enough to have at least a bit of garden attached. So he has strips about watching Alien with his 11-year-old son, about unclogging the kitchen sink, about playing squash for the first time, about taking planes or trains, about vacations and business trips to various places. Of course, Trondheim is a cartoonist, not simply an illustrator, so he, his family and friends, are all various anthropomorphic creatures. Trondheim himself seems to be a man-sized seagull; his wife is a bit stork-like, and so on.
I’m sure there are people out there for whom that would be the worst possible comic of all time, but I enjoyed it.
Little Nothings is the record of a series of ordinary moments, presented in a fuzzy-edged watercolor-over-pen style, chosen carefully and presented well. There are no dramatic moments – let alone melodramatic ones – but what there is, is quite enough.
Andrew Wheeler has been a publishing professional for nearly twenty years, with a long stint as a Senior Editor at the Science Fiction Book Club and a current position at John Wiley & Sons. He’s been reading comics for longer than he cares to mention, and maintains a personal, mostly book-oriented blog at antickmusings.blogspot.com.
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