Approximate Continuum Comics
Written & Illustrated by Lewis Trondheim
Translated by Kim Thompson
Lettered by Stephanie Noell & Priscilla Miller
Published by Fantagraphics
Lewis Trondheim is one of Europe’s best cartoonists.
Let me revise that: Lewis Trondheim is one of the world’ best cartoonists. He happens to be French, however, and not all of his books are available in English, so it’s always exciting when something new comes to the States. (In the interests of complete documentation, the first half of Approximate Continuum Comics was previously serialized in English, but the latter portion was not – and I didn’t know Trondheim’s work at the time and missed the first half its first time around. So it’s all new to me.)
Approximate Continuum Comics is some of Trondheim’s earliest autobiographical work, dating mostly from 1993 and 1996. If you’re read his more recent slivers of life observations (Little Nothings, available in three volumes from NBM – get them all!), then you already know the sublime wit and casual self-deprecation of Trondheim’s cartooning. Approximate Continuum Comics is where that tact begins.
However, Little Nothings is where the approach reaches is apogee. ACC is intriguing, but more in the sense of watching a terrific cartoonist find the voice that will make him a legend – you’re not seeing the full bloom of his powers at this stage. Here, he rambles a bit, wanders around the punch line, fails to cut each observation down to the bone. The jokes are there, as are the sublime insights into himself, his work and his colleagues. He’ll refine his approach, however, develop tighter narratives, and the result will be Little Nothings.
Approximate Continuum Comics, it’s for Trondheim fans. It’s still pleasant enough, but if you want to see why this guy is among the best in the business, check out Dungeon. Or Tiny Tyrant. Or, yes, Little Nothings. You’ll love them, and before you know it, you’ll want to see how that voice developed. Approximate Continuum Comics is a good book; it’s just not where I’d recommend you start exploring the work of this must-read cartoonist.