David Boring

Daniel Clowes

Book - 2000

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Graphic novels
New York : Pantheon Books 2000.
Physical Description
116 p. : chiefly ill. (some col.)
Main Author
Daniel Clowes (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

New graphic novels by the two arguably most important alternative comics creators demonstrate conclusively that comics can achieve higher purposes than those of the superhero and other tired genres.Clowes' protagonists are generally jaded young cynics, and Boring's eponymous hero is appropriately and ironically named. Outwardly passive, ennui-deadened David is a figure to whom extraordinary things happen as he obsessively pursues oddly coifed Wanda, his mysterious ideal woman. In that pursuit, he is shot twice, hides out on an isolated island surrounded by an eccentric family, and gets involved in a murder case before the story approaches a possibly apocalyptic conclusion. David's problems stem from an absent father, a hack comic-book artist whose only legacy is yellowed panels from his stories. Stark, confusing, rather off-putting, Clowes' new book is also intense, poetic, and intriguing, which is precisely what Clowes intends it to be, given his preference for sparse dialogue, ironic first-person narration, and deadpan illustration. Not as accessible and convincing as Clowes' Ghost World (1997), Boring is still an impressive slice of graphic surrealism.Ware's hero is a doughy, middle-aged loser who retreats into fantasies that he is "The Smartest Kid on Earth." The minimal plot involves Jimmy's tragicomic reunion with the father who abandoned him in childhood. In abruptly juxtaposed flashbacks, Ware depicts previous generations of Corrigan males, revealing how their similar histories of rejection and abandonment culminated in Jimmy's hapless state. What makes the slight story remarkable is Ware's command of the comics medium. His crisp, painstaking draftsmanship, which sets cartoonish figures in meticulously detailed architectural settings, is matched by his formal brilliance. Ware effectively uses tiny, repetitive panels to convey Jimmy's limited existence, then suddenly bursts a page open with expansive, breathtaking vistas. His complex, postmodern approach incorporates such antiquated influences as Windsor McCay's pioneering Little Nemo strips and turn-of-the-century advertising, transforming them into something new, evocative, and affecting. His daunting skill transforms a simple tale into a pocket epic and makes Jimmy's melancholy story the stuff of cartoon tragedy. --Gordon FlaggCopyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Critically lauded comics artist Clowes follows up his masterful Ghost World with this sometimes enticing, sometimes baffling, graphic novel about a postadolescent antihero. David Boring is one of Clowes's signature types affectless, indifferent to his future and disdaining the small town he left behind. He shares an apartment in "the city" with Dot, a wisecracking lesbian friend, to whom he recounts his passionless, fetishistic sexual conquests; he falls in love with Wanda, a girl who's just his type, only to have her vanish. When Boring's visiting hometown acquaintance is murdered, he becomes the main suspect. Then Boring himself is shot in the head. Convalescing on the resort island where he spent part of his youth, Boring and the other vacationers find themselves stuck there indefinitely after terrorists' germ weapons render the mainland U.S. uninhabitable. One subplot concerns the Yellow Streak, a superhero comic that Boring's father drew long ago; another concerns the Eerie Boy, who keeps invading our antihero's dreams. Clowes (Eightball) alternates moving scenes of personal alienation and despair with bizarre transitions, portentous plot twists and an unconvincing mix'n'match of genres. Clowes's faux-naïf drawing style is as effective as ever, and his fans will certainly enjoy it. The same fans may feel the ambitious narrative tries to do too many things at once. This is, however, serious and innovative work; and it's never boring. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Obsessed with the drawing of a woman that he has clipped from a magazine, nineteen-year-old David Boring finds his life beginning to unravel when he comes face to face with the object of his fascination.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Obsessed with the drawing of a woman that he has clipped from a magazine, nineteen-year-old David Boring finds his life beginning to unravel when he comes face to the face with the object of his fascination, in an intriguing graphic novel by one of the nation's premier underground cartoonists. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Meet David Boring: a nineteen-year-old security guard with a tortured inner life and an obsessive nature. When he meets the girl of his dreams, things begin to go awry: what seems too good to be true apparently is. And what seems truest in Boring's life is that, given the right set of circumstances (in this case, an orgiastic cascade of vengeance, humiliation and murder) the primal nature of humankind will come inexorably to the fore."Boring finds love with a mysterious woman named Wanda, loses her and sort of finds her again. He also gets shot in the head (twice) and stranded on an island with his brutish family. Meanwhile, the world may or may not be ending soon. And did I mention that much of this is hilariously funny?" -- Time