Thursday, April 09, 2009

Boring In

Throughout my reading life, I've had an omnivorous approach to books.  I'll be happily going about my business, then stumble across a new author, topic, or genre that sparks something in me.  I become obsessed, and devour as much of the new thing as I can to satiate my hunger.  This is how I read David Eddings, Isaac Asimov, and countless other sci-fi and fantasy authors throughout elementary and middle school.  Now, obviously, I am doing the same for Discworld, but also something similar for graphic novels.  I'm not about to start buying monthly issues of anything, but I've been sufficiently impressed by the few top-tier titles that I've recently picked up that I keep returning to the well for more.

The problem is that, without a background in comics or a connection to the usual sources for determining quality (conventions, knowledgeable comic shop owners, online communities), I have a hard time locating new options that will be worth my time.  Fortunately, I'm not alone in this situation, and given the post-Frank Miller surge in literary recognition, more and more mainstream publications are covering (or at the very least acknowledging) the best work in the field.  So, when I decided that it was time to find another graphic novel, I wasn't too surprised to see that Time Magazine had a very handy list of the best 10.  I plucked one from the list that I had never heard of before, "David Boring," and started reading.

I learned after finishing the book that the author of David Boring is the same guy who did Ghost World (which I haven't read), the basis for the movie of the same name (which I have seen) starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi.  I didn't at all make the connection while reading, but you could certainly draw some parallels if you wanted to.  Both feature young characters on the threshold before adulthood who have adult problems and freedoms but who seem subconsciously terrified of adult responsibilities.  Both are surprisingly realistic (Ghost World much more so than David Boring).  Both have incredibly intense relationships between major characters, relationships that evolve believably and don't hew to traditional arcs.

On the whole, though, David Boring is much more exciting and interesting than Ghost World.  You can appreciate it as a lot of things, and one of those is as an action-packed mystery story.  I don't want to oversell this angle - it isn't like Batman or anything - but there is a very satisfying cadence and energy to the plot.  It's also interesting when the characters sit down and discuss their dreams and frustrations.  The momentum of the plot keeps the dialog from ever bogging down the book, though.

I really want to re-read this at some point.  Looking back over it, the book is surprisingly intricate, with some mysteries early on that don't get resolved until much later, and I get the feeling that I'll catch a lot more the second time through than I did the first time around.

The art is cool and striking.  It's almost entirely in sharp black-and-white, slightly stylized, and far richer than you would see in a newspaper comic.  It's more illustration than drawing, if that makes sense.  The exception comes from the comic-within-a-comic, "The Yellow Streak," an old (maybe 1960's-era?) superhero comic that David Boring treasures, reading a few precious panels at a time.

All in all, it was another thoroughly satisfying read.  Let the devouring continue!

No comments:

Post a Comment