European Comics
Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella
By Beth Davies-Stofka
May 13, 2008 - 13:38

NBM Publishing
Writer(s): Lewis Trondheim
ISBN: 978-1-56163-523-8
6x9, 128pp., full color trade pb. with flaps, $14.95

In Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella, Lewis Trondheim highlights the sheer ordinariness of the everyday life of a middle class family man.  Never mind that this man is Trondheim himself, prolific author of more than 35 books, co-founder of the influential French comics publisher l'Association, and winner of the prestigious Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoul√™me in 2006.  Little Nothings is a tribute to the joys and comforts of a relatively successful life, recalling classic family strips like Hi and Lois or Family Circus, rendered in gorgeous watercolor and starring funny animals.

An ordinary man is not a boring man, as the escapades of Trondheim's bird-headed alter-ego shows.  Daily life is full of small aggravations, surprises, delights, and challenges, all couched within home and car maintenance, work, marriage, kids and pets.  Trondheim chases rainbows, plays pranks, tries his hand at gardening, and plays with his kid's toy light saber, usually when no one is watching.  He also lives with petty anxieties and paranoias, endowing them with grace and humor, as if he were Charlie Brown all grown up.

This beautiful book collects 120 watercolor strips in full color, one per page.  This allows Trondheim considerable creative latitude, including a wonderful tendency to deliver wordless punchlines with his paintbrush.  Trondheim travels a great deal, and chronicles several trips in Little Nothings, including his 2006 trip to the Angoul√™me comics festival.  His account of a trip to Hong Kong is particularly stunning.  The wonder of watercolors is at its most apparent on these trips.

You will want to hold this book, flip through it, and read it repeatedly.  It will restore and refresh your own whimsical eye, inspiring you to see your daily life in small, perfect vignettes, and reminding you of the value of goofing off.  Catch a preview at the publisher's website


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