Review: Endless Sky – A Swiss in New York

The first thing I would say about David Boller’s Endless Sky, is that anyone that’s looking to get into comics should read it at one point. It’s not a how to guide or a best case/worst case scenario, but it’s an interesting read that gives a lot of insight. At least the beginning chapters. The graphic novel is an autobiographical story from David about his time spent in America as a comic book artist. Now there is one thing to point out, though it’s autobiographical David has changed the names and looks of people in the story so that the actual names and faces aren’t as easy to place. I found this interesting given David’s professional work and the amount of online resources that could be used to still figure out the names of some of the people, but that’s neither here nor there.

The story originally appeared as a webcomic, but now has been collected and released as a graphic novel. It kicks off in Switzerland as David is getting ready to leave for the states to attend the Joe Kubert School of Art. He gives an interesting walkthrough of this journey and what New York was like in the 90’s and of course New Jersey where the school is based.

While there’s a heavy focus on the comic book side of things while David is in school, that eventually subsides when he meets his future wife Rachel. The story then focuses more on his personal life and life with Rachel and her eccentric family and then later with Rachel’s medical complications with Type-1 Diabetes.

Overall it’s a well told story. Boller manages to find story beats within his own life and so when a chapter ends it really is a chapter in his life ending. It’s not the best autobiographical comic I’ve read, but it’s still quite good. Because it was originally a web-comic and I’m sure that Boller wanted to remind readers periodically of details, there end up being a lot of redundancies when David meets new people. At first it wasn’t very noticeable, but then after about 200 pages it stuck out like a sore thumb. It really just shows that it was originally a different format and that’s okay, but keep that in mind while reading.

Endless Sky OGN-1While reading it I couldn’t help but think that it was the exact opposite of K-Mart Shoes, which is another autobiographical comic I’ve read. The reason being is that Endless Sky is the polar opposite of K-Mart Shoes. Both books have these moments in which as the reader you know that one of two things is going to happen: something good or something terrible. In K-Mart Shoes every time one of these crossroads is reached the answer is “something terrible’, whereas with Endless Sky the answer is “something good.” Really I couldn’t help but think how fortunate Boller was to have his experiences and opportunities and while they weren’t the ones he was seeking, the ones he got were pretty good.

The art is good. After all Boller is an artist. He captures the era of the 90s quite well. With any autobiographical story emotion and expressions are important and Boller covers them all. That’s always a good thing because it makes the story feel real and reminds you that it did happen to someone. The art is in all black & white and it works okay. It’s detailed, but not extremely detailed and I think it would have been better if it had been more detailed at times, but again being a web-comic may have played a part in that. There’s also a flare of manga/animation occasionally that both worked and didn’t.

The only thing that kind of bothered me about the book was the self-admitted things left out of the story. Pair that with the intentional changes and it felt like I wasn’t getting the whole story. Now that’s just me I’m not counting that towards my review score of plus and minuses, but it is something to think about while reading the book as there are several times you think the story is going to address something like Bill Clinton and then it never does.

It’s a solid read, but it’s also a long read. While reading it I did feel the desire to keep on reading all the way until the end, but upon finishing it I knew it was something I would never read again. I think that says a lot about a book when you like it while reading it, but not enough to do again. For me though it was still interesting and at least worth reading once, just not twice.

Score: 3/5

Writer/Artist/Creator: David Boller Publisher: Virtual Graphics Price: $24.95 Release Date: 8/6/14 Format: OGN; Print