David Boring

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Meet David Boring: a nineteen-year-old security guard with a tortured innner 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 humandkind will come inexorably to the fore.

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Overview

Meet David Boring: a nineteen-year-old security guard with a tortured innner 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 humandkind 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
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Comic books are just kids' stuff, aren't they? Superheroes and flying saucers and jug-eared kids making nuisances of themselves. In fact, there are adult emotions at work in the best of today's graphic novels, as the grown-up version of the genre has been dubbed. It's an alternative world, one characterized by profound melancholy, offering a different kind of escapism than is typically associated with comic books.

The simultaneous publication of two recent graphic novels, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, the collected tales of the author's pitiable protagonist, and Daniel Clowes' David Boring, another collection about another neurotic young man by the author of Ghost World, marks a significant milestone in the art of the comic book. For one thing, both books come in hardcover.

That's just the most obvious of their many departures from comic-book tradition. In the elegant hands of Ware and Clowes, probably the two most celebrated alternative-comics artists of recent years, the mundane lives and fanciful dream states of their alter egos inspire new combinations of poetry and storytelling.

Ware, who has been publishing his serialized Jimmy Corrigan stories for several years now as part of the Acme Novelty Library—a series of outsize, painstakingly detailed comic books—was discovered by Art Spiegelman, the comic artist who gave the form an unprecedented respectability when he won the Pulitzer Prize for his Holocaust family history, Maus. The title character, Corrigan, a thirty-six-year-old man-child who stumbles through an ill-fated meeting with his long-estranged father, is theproduct of several generations of unfulfilled men. Flashbacks to Corrigan's grandfather's Chicago childhood give the author ample opportunity to explore one hundred years of the city's changing face, from the magnificent 1893 World's Fair to the high-rise offices of today. Ware, who structures his narrative in ways that invoke old advertisements or the dialogue cards of silent movies, clearly has little use for the modern world. With the inevitable effects of the march of progress "come new ways of hiding things, and new things to hide," Ware writes in one touching sequence that depicts the grandfather Corrigan playing hide-and-seek as a boy.

Pale and pear-shaped, Corrigan has hollow eyes that give him the skittish look of a neglected mutt living in fear of the rolled-up newspaper. Curiously, Corrigan's chronic lack of confidence is wholly betrayed by the author's thick, woodcut-like lines, which are absolutely self-assured. Ware's are some of the most beautiful pictures ever seen in comic books.

In a meticulous apology printed on the back pages of the book, Ware expresses his (needless) regret that his literary techniques don't do justice to his semi-autobiographical tale. When he met his real father some years ago, he writes, he was relieved to find that the man was unfamiliar with the Corrigan comics—"the invisible and universally unfashionable world of the comic strip having left me thankfully unread." Utterly in spite of himself, Ware is making comic-book art very fashionable indeed.

So too is Clowes, whose Ghost World, the rambling, seemingly inconsequential dialogue of two disaffected young women, is being made into a feature film (by Terry Zwigoff, who directed Crumb, the extraordinary documentary based on the odd life of the underground comics artist R. Crumb). Like Ware, Clowes tells the story of a timid young man whose real life is no match for his interior world. Unlike Corrigan, Clowes' character is obsessed with the opposite sex, and he acts on his obsessions. And his nostalgic tendencies plumb a slightly more recent America, one of 1950s diners and 1960s apartment complexes. Contrary to his name, Boring's escapades include a handful of shootings, a drowning and other tragedies.

Like Ware, Clowes has an ability to capture ephemeral feelings with keen combinations of words and pictures. In a narrative on "the first really warm day of spring," the title character notes, "the streets are quiet and a lot of businesses are closed because of some obscure religious holiday, and I am buoyed by the innate human confidence that comes with fair weather." The close reader can really feel the short-sleeve weather in the accompanying suburban street scene. It's an achievement that is unmistakably literary in its execution. Of course, the comic-book authors of today grew up reading the classic comic books of yesterday. Both of these new books make cryptic references to Superman, the red-caped superhero who made so many anxious young lives more bearable with his invincible exploits. In his despair, the hero-less Jimmy Corrigan catches glimpses of a fellow in a Superman outfit, toppling from skyscraper ledges. And David Boring searches for clues from his own estranged father, a free-lance comic artist who once drew an issue for the "S____" series.

Subtle as it is, the work of these two young talents can be more powerful than a locomotice. Few examples of modern literature can leap so many tall buildings in a single bound.
—James Sullivan

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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-na f 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.|
Time
Boring has proved itself a work that captures the feeling of being young and filled with ennui and living in America at the end of the 20th Century. For those interested in comic art's potential, Clowes's work offers exciting literary possibilities. Boring is Anything but.
Time Magazine
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?
Esquire
Clowes is a master storyteller and artist-there's poetry in every panel.
Vogue
No one has his eye-or ear-focused on youth as acutely as graphic novelist Daniel Clowes
Newsweek
Clowes is the country's premier underground cartoonist…a master storyteller and artist.
Village Voice
Clowes spells out the realities of teen angst as powerfully and authentically as Salinger did in Catcher in the Rye for an earlier generation.
Dave Eggers
What separates Clowes is the perfect interplay between his tightly controlled artwork, the empty . . . rage simmering just beneath it, and just below that, a strangely simple yearning for simple and solid things, like, say, love.
New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780224063234
  • Publisher: Cape, Jonathan Limited
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007

Meet the Author

Daniel Clowes was born in Chicago in 1961. He is the creator of the comic book Eight-Ball, twenty-one issues of which have been published to date. His work has appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, Vogue, Time, and Newsweek, among others. A feature film based on his 1998 book, Ghost World, starring Thora Birch, will be released in 2001 by MGM. He lives a childless, petless life in California with his beloved wife.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2001

    Pinnacle of Comic Book Achievement

    This graphic novel would serve best as evidence that comics are an intellectual asset. Both the prose and artwork complement one another perfectly and the motifs and underlying elements of this novel make it worth studying. Each of the main characters are complex and human even the secondary characters. However, I am able to understand how some people maybe offended by the content of this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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