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Comic Book / The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

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"I think, at heart, I'm basically a competitive, easily-wounded narcissist, and this so-called "career" is only making things worse."

The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Cartoonist is an autobiographical comic written and drawn by Adrian Tomine, published in 2020 by Drawn & Quarterly.

It follows a fictional depiction of Tomine at various comics industry-related events and incidents throughout the years, beginning from his early fame as an independent artist in the 1990s to his life as a father in the late 2010s, and depicts the loneliness, insecurity, and isolation he felt about his career at each point in time.


  • Asian and Nerdy: Tomine, who is Japanese-American, narrates an incident where a cartoonist assumed he was an internet technician rather than a fellow cartoonist.
  • Briffits and Squeans: Invoked. To demonstrate his profession for his daughter's class, Adrian draws a man running. He draws loops around the man's head (plewds) and the kids pick up that the man is sweaty. He draws a poofy shape followed by lines (briffits) intending to show the man's speed, but the kids think he farted.
  • Censor Box: Some names of people and organizations Tomine had interacted with are scratched out with black to protect their identities, making it look like a censor box. Others like Neil Gaiman and NPR host Terry Gross are not.
  • Follow the Leader: Invoked, Adrian notes opinions that he's become a ripoff of Daniel Clowes in terms of style and includes an anecdote where a fan mistakes him for Clowes at a convention.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: After a health scare Adrian goes into a rant about his life and his views on his career and family. Twenty minutes later he gets up and starts a comic set in "Fresno, 1982", the setting of the comic's A Minor Kidroduction, implying that the incident is what inspired him to write this book.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: The Japanese Adrian pisses off a Loony Fan of his, who calls him a derivative Chinese asshole in return.
  • Less Embarrassing Term:
    • Adrian considers himself a cartoonist, but when he's invited to a literature festival, the obviously embarrassed moderator uses the term "graphic author".
    • The term "graphic novel" is frequently brought up as a mature alternative to "comics" or "cartoons", which people still think are for kids.
  • Loony Fan: Adrian gets a fan who follows him around, tracks his movements in a book, and mails said book to him. Adrian sees him outside his home and strikes up a conversation, intending to defuse the situation, only to get entitled opinions about his writing in turn.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The comic begins with a young Adrian being bullied at school for being passionate about comics. Cue title, then a skip to 1995 where Adrian's career as a cartoonist is starting to gain steam.
  • The Oner: A producer for a television network that's interviewing Adrian intends to frame it as "a continuous shot, no cuts, no edits, like Orson Welles".
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: A party guest pronounces Adrian Tomine's last name as "Toe-mine". He tries to get the right pronunciation in before getting cut off. Mispronunciations that he can't correct pop up throughout the story.
  • Small Reference Pools: A young Adrian tells his teacher he wants to be a cartoonist. She can name Walt Disney as an example of a famous one. Adrian cites John Romita instead and talks his teacher's ear off when she asks who he is.
  • Self-Deprecation: The fictional version of Adrian Tomine constantly puts himself down or feels left out in the middle of events that ostensibly celebrate his success. He narrates several incidents where people don't show up to signings, prefer more famous authors to him, or spout negative opinions of his work in his presence. When he's interviewed for NPR, this insecurity is rendered as a "spirit" version of Tomine who overthinks his manner of speaking, calls his answers to the host's questions subpar, and tells him that the lame interview will be immortalized. Early in the comic he cites a real negative review about his work:
    Haven’t we seen a little too much of the hip, muted, fragmented, overly-short short stories that this moron is trying to pass off as fresh and original?
  • Splash of Color: The art is otherwise rendered as simple black-and-white sketches on notepad paper. During Adrian's NPR interview he looks across to the dental office across the street and sees a spray of blood, rendered in bright red, that highlights the stressfulness of the situation.
  • "Ugly American" Stereotype: Lampshaded by Adrian, who stumbles upon a protest while being interviewed in France. He frets that his ignorance of the situation will make him look like an ugly American.