The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Man, this book.
So Scott McCloud is sort of legendary in graphic circles, and for good reason. I heard great things about this one, but I really honestly didn't expect this sort of great story. It's sort of a love letter to art and creation and such, but also really grasps what trying to be an artist can be like.
We follow David Smith, who is a sculptor who can't seem to get any traction. He meets a man who offers him a deal he can't refuse: 200 days to be able to sculpt anything with his hands, but he dies when his time is up. What follows is a trajectory that's unpredictable and maddening.
I get it. I haven't been as creative as I used to be as of late for a myriad of reasons, but the sort of craziness that can sometimes inhabit you comes across in full force here. I feel like this hits upon a lot of the artists I know, along with the personality quirks that go with it. The book handles mental illness in a pretty real way as well, which is a nice change of pace even if the "mentally disturbed artist" trope has a tendency to be overdone. What's best, though, are the surprises. Even though this has a Faustian angle to it, I kept being surprised as the book went on, and that's always a good thing. And the artwork is gorgeous, and is definitely in the more traditional comic medium without sacrificing the clarity and beauty of it all - it's a different kind of gorgeous than what modern graphic novels with amazing art tend to be.
Still, this is a great example of the best graphic novels have to offer. Really should be up there in terms of required reading for those who love the medium or want to see what it's about. I know I would have fallen in love with graphic novels much earlier if I had seen this a decade ago. Simply a must read, amazingly done.
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