Over and Over is a graphic novel in which newcomer Ran Michael Ekman explores the notion of breakups through a period in the life of young and nerdishly cute Tom. Tom was living a good life in the bustling city of Tel Aviv until the breakup of his relationship and since then it’s been downhill. This plot might seem familiar to readers. After all, doomed relationships and trying — or failing– to move forward are events so very familiar to folks whether through their own experiences or the the well trod plot of many a mvie and novel. So what’s one more story? My answer to that is it comes down to what a writer or director does with the plot and their characters to make them compelling that counts.
Ekman doesn’t treat Tom with kid gloves which made reading the story all the more interesting and relatable. A failed relationship is just for starters. Since the breakup one date after the next have all been terrible if you ask him and that’s when dates happen at all. The lease he signed with a passive aggressive roommate is nearing its end and the search for a decent apartment is proving to be a monumental challenge. Meanwhile, Tom’s best friend Sharon does her utmost to be supportive considering her priorities have shifted significantly with the realities of motherhood. Then there’s a mandatory work costume party that fills Tom with as much dread as it does his coworkers with giddy excitement.
It’s easy to feel sorry for Tom but Ekman wants us to do more. The truth of how we get to an emotional place can be complex and obscured by denial and this is no less true for Tom. Certainly the breakup affected Tom’s emotions and attitude though his interactions with his ex in flashbacks. and coworkers reveal he’s flawed, occasionally oblivious, and wants everything to be perfect which is the life he thought he had with his old boyfriend. So how does he get past this point? By being honest with himself. Ekman takes a two pronged approach here. The first involves returning to an old creative outlet that he’d given up without realizing it while a new friendship with the attractive Omer proves the second means for Tom to come to terms. Ekman uses this new connection between Tom and Omer to get Tom out of his self-pitying loop and move forward in a way that’s right for his life is a very pleasant surprise.
An alternative ending made for another nice surprise. This was Ekman’s original idea and tells a different fate for Tom. My initial reaction was to question the choice to include it but I found myself re-reading both endings and debating the merits of each. Ekman made the right choice because it allows for new opportunities to happen.
On the visual side of the story Ekman’s thick contoured line style is steeped in an aesthetic right at home in slice of life indy comics. To reveal more of Tom’s emotional state via dream sequences Ekman employs a simple and very effective method of drawing swirling panels or doing away with them all together. These scenes are further offset by a thinner line and lighter touch with inking. Ekman’s line art is accented with gray tones. I suspect there are two reasons for the choice. One reason being that a single person doing every part of a graphic novel except editing is a very daunting job and I admire anyone who commits to the undertaking. Full color significantly adds to the cost of printing hard copies. Scrolling through Ekman’s Twitter reveals several color images of the Over and Over cast show he has a good sense of color that makes me want to see more of his work presented that way.
Rounding out the book is an extensive section of artistic material in the form of character sketches, page layouts, cover ideas, and the like. Seeing how characters looks develop and evolve as an artist fleshes them into being interest me. The same can be said from a process point of view regarding the page layout and cover idea material.
Over and Over is a thoughtful exploration of breaking up and getting back in touch with yourself. Tom’s story may have ended here but I hope Ekman has more stories in himself to tell.
Over And Over is available for purchase only on Amazon.
*Please note the price for digial is current as of the time of publication. Over and Over is free to read with Kindle Unlimited.