During the opening ceremonies of the new Capitol Hill and University of Washington light rail stations, Phillip and I stopped into Phoenix Comics & Games, where I bought a copy of Thoughts From Iceland: A Travelogue Comic, by Lonnie Mann. (This makes it the second book for the 2016 Reading Challenge that found me during the opening of a Seattle mass transit project. I don’t know what that has to do with anything, except maybe evidence that mass transit helps business?)
I’d had my eye on Thoughts From Iceland for quite some time. The station-opening day sale was the incentive I needed to buy it. I wanted to dive into it that day, but I’d planned it for the “Bonus Round” of the Reading Challenge. So, it sat on our bookshelf until the 40 categories of the Reading Challenge were done.
In December, 2012, Lonnie Mann took a short, three-and-a-half day trip to Iceland. He’d had a lot of experience flying for business, but this trip was solely for pleasure. It was his first visit to Iceland. He traveled alone.
Everything went smoothly on his vacation – there’s not a lot of drama, aside from not recognizing an ATM, slipping on ice, and getting lost on the streets of Reykjavik – and that’s the charm of this book. It’s a very honest account of an enjoyable solo vacation. He sees fascinating sites, tries new food, sees cute guys, and meets the friendly staff of various shops. He has a wonderful time, but the book doesn’t gloss things over. (On a guided tour to a glacier, he realizes he’s the only one in the van who doesn’t know at least one other person, and he feels “incredibly shy”)
He spends a lot of time sitting in cafés, enjoying various drinks, observing the scene around him, and wondering why he doesn’t do that back home.
Oh, one amazing thing that happened to him was that in Keflavík International Airport, on his way home, he met Jónsi (the lead singer in Sigur Rós) and his boyfriend Alex. He has a photograph to prove it. (Unless it’s fake, Lonnie writes, pointing out that computer graphics are very advanced these days.)
This graphic novel is nicely illustrated with a mixture of simplicity and detail. His artwork feels happy, somehow. (I wish the book was larger, so the panels didn’t have to be so tiny.)
The book includes photographs – often of the things illustrated earlier. There are maps of each day’s journey to show you where things are. There’s a glossary and a guide to Icelandic pronunciation. There are a few surprises.
Thoughts From Iceland started out as a web comic. You can still find it at lonniecomics.com. Then, through crowdfunding, the book was produced.
- A graphic novel