TLOTLDC and Constitution Illustrated in NY Times Best of 2020

The Best Graphic Novels of 2020

New York Times    |    Ed Park    |    December 9, 2020

The charming anecdotes in Adrian Tomine’s autobiographical THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE CARTOONIST are drawn in simple black and white over a notebook-like grid. The style conveys the feeling of an artist entertaining himself, unbeholden to the stricter demands of his precise, often disturbing fictions. For the most part, it’s a jaunty ride, laugh-out-loud funny as it recounts racial slights, gastrointestinal issues and professional jealousy. But an unforeseen event near the end unlocks a flood of emotion unlike anything Tomine has expressed before on paper. What starts out as playful self-deprecation becomes his most heartbreaking work to date. (Park)

R. Sikoryak’s CONSTITUTION ILLUSTRATED resembles his “Terms and Conditions” (2017), in which the tangled legalese from Apple’s iPhone agreement is dramatized in a slew of hilariously recognizable comic styles, from “Peanuts” to Edward Gorey. Something unexpectedly moving happens in Sikoryak’s latest. Once again, there’s no narrative as such, but instead of the conceptual goofiness of iconic characters spewing state-of-the-art legalese, the utopian language of the U.S. Constitution is somehow enhanced. You’ll crack up seeing the 17th Amendment (“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state…”) floating above Garfield and Odie — but you’ll also get a lump in your throat. Sikoryak refreshes the Constitution with the visual grammar of these (mostly) American artists, from Milton Caniff to Raina Telgemeier. At times resembling a comics “Hamilton,” it’s the most slyly patriotic book of the year. (Park)

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