By Lewis Trondheim
32 pages, color
Published by NBM
A couple of years ago, NBM published a North American edition of Lewis Trondheim’s Mister O, detailing the continual attempts (and deaths) of a little O-shaped man desperately trying to get across a chasm. Now we’re presented with its thematic sequel, Mister I, in a new cycle of attempt-and-death by a character shaped like the letter he’s named after. The big difference, here, is that everyone will be cheering Mister I on to his inevitable death.
While Mister O’s objective in life was to get to the proverbial “other side,” Mister I’s aim is to get food without having to work at it, be it stealing or sneaking it into his mouth. Each wordless encounter has him enacting what looks like a perfect plan to snag some dinner, but ending in death. With the difference in motivation with this new book, Mister I’s deaths are hardly a tragedy. He’s an annoying, loathsome guy and as a result you want to see him fail yet again, be it eaten by a dog or having a heart attack. Trondheim’s change in attitude for this book works well, letting readers get giddy with excitement as another scheme is once again failing, similar to the way that young viewers cheer as Wile E. Coyote on Looney Tunes cartoons fails time and time again. When you want your protagonist to fail, the humor comes much easier.
Trondheim once again crams 60 panels onto a page, each telling a complete story. The art itself is simple and iconic, but it works quite well for what he’s trying to tell. Any more detail would distract from Trondheim’s intentions, to have a silly, off-beat, and not-entirely-realistic sequence of events involving the death of the title character. If he looked too realistic you might actually feel bad for him, and that’s something you definitely don’t want. It’s silly and goofy through and through.
Mister I is the sort of book that after you’ve read, you’ll want to leave sitting out for friends and family to see. It’s more than a little forgettable and just a trifle, but it achieves its purpose of amusing the reader in short bursts perfectly. All in all, a fun book that you can’t help but laugh to, and while its sights aren’t set high, it hits its mark.