It's still winter here in north Florida, with temperatures dropping as low as 20F, but there are hints of spring, too. Early-blooming magnolias. Days when the sear of blue sky is accompanied by weather so perfect you can almost smell the spring to come, with out-door barbecues, a profusion of azaleas, and a thickness of pollen that you don't mind because the air is so clean otherwise.
Which is all another way of saying that Lewis Trondheim's Little Nothings: The Prisoner Syndrome is a spring book released on the cusp of the end of winter. It's breezy, delightful, makes the heart glad, and has nothing much more on its mind than drinking in everything around it. (Despite the slightly ominous, tongue-in-cheek cover...)
What is "the prisoner syndrome"? It's when you're trapped in one place with little to do, whether at home or on the road. Most of Trondheim's book takes place on various book tours or vacations, full of little moments of discovery and boredom. At one point, he even has to dispose of a dead cat. Little Nothings is composed of small moments that can at times seem apropos of, well, nothing, but that build into a compelling, quietly humorous, and satisfying series of observations. Trondheim's brilliance as an artist is on full display, as he renders various settings in meticulous detail, retaining a fluidity largely created by an instinct for color choices that makes the art light yet grounded.
It's worth reproducing Trondheim's bio in the back of the book, for what it illuminates in the creator's work:
Lewis Trondheim was born in the previous millennium. Thus, even though he loves new, high tech gadgets like keys that open cars remotely, he continues to appreciate more particularly the small, simple things that give life its zest. He came to understand very quickly that he wouldn't have any grip on wars around the world, mass terrorism, and the use of bacterological weapons. However, a pillow, a ball of paper, or luggage are tools that he masters to perfection. Especially luggage, when it comes to escaping prisoners' syndrome.
Trondheim may be my favorite living artist in the graphic novel form, and nothing in Little Nothings: The Prisoner Syndrome dissuades me from that opinion. A great gift, too, for anyone you know going on a trip this spring. For more sample pages, click here.