To say Skip To The End is love letter to Nirvana massively undersells the book, but to say it isn’t a love letter to Nirvana would be an outright lie. Even to the most casual of Nirvana fans, the type that might struggle singing along to the chorus of Smells Like Teen Spirit, the parallels are obvious. Samsara’s drummer Mark Stone, who goes on to form his own successful band, is Dave Grohl. The band’s name, Samsara, stems from Sanskrit ‘the holy language, as does Nirvana; while Nirvana is a transient state without suffering, Samsara is the cycle of life and rebirth. Then there’s the more blatant parallels like Kirk’s suicide by shotgun and his fascination with the new woman in his life, referencing Courtney Love’s relationship with Kurt Cobain and his own tragic suicide. In fact, the only truly original member of Samsara is the protagonist, Jonny – of course even he seems to share a lot of similarities with Nirvana’s bass guitarist Krist Novoselic.
But beneath the endless references and familiar backstories is something else, something deeper. The attention to detail and the constant fan service never overshadows Jeremy Holt’s knack for believable, natural dialogue, nor does it ever come off as sloppily written fan fiction. Skip To The End may be a love letter to Nirvana, but it never seems cheesy or cringe-inducing, like most love letters do. Instead it feels honest and heartfelt, like all good love letters should. It’s painfully clear that Kurt Cobain’s death and the music of Nirvana had a deep impact on Holt growing up, and Skip To The End feels like something that’s been gestating and growing in his mind ever since. The level of care and detail that’s gone into crafting a delicate portrayal of suicide, addiction and grief clearly shows the amount of research Holt has invested in crafting this story.
Alex Diotto’s art perfectly suits the somber tone of the book. It may not be the most technically impressive nor the most visually stunning, but looking back on some of Diotto’s previous work, you can tell the rough line-work is an artistic choice made by Diotto and Holt specifically for the book. It is all tied neatly together by Renzo Podesta’s murky, grey colour scheme and Adam Wollet’s sharp, yet defined work on the lettering. For the most part, Skip To The End is not a happy or uplifting tale, and Podesta’s, Diotto’s and Wollet’s combined talent immediately signifies this to the reader from page one.
Skip To The End may be deeply rooted in the history of Nirvana, but those unfamiliar with the band’s history can still find a lot to enjoy, even without this frame of reference. Jonny’s story of addiction and loss is equal parts touching and brutally honest, no doubt in part due to Holt’s tireless research into opioid addiction and his time attending AA meetings in preparation. If you’ve never heard of Kirk Cobain, even if you’ve never hummed along to a Nirvana track on the radio, Skip To The End is still a masterfully written and unflinching portrayal of life at its lowest ebb. It’s undoubtedly Holt’s best work to date, solidifying him as one of the most talented indie writers currently working in comics. Skip To The End cements Jeremy Holt as one to watch out for in the future.
Verdict: 4.5 Out Of 5
You can read my interview with Jeremy here!
Lewis loves Nightwing more than you ever will, so keep your filthy hands away from him. If he’s not delving into his insanely long back catalogue, Lewis is likely getting bodied in a fighting game or tweeting something pointless.