Review Take Two: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Saturday, March 14, 2015
Title: The Sculptor
Author: Scott McCloud
Genre: graphic novel, supernatural
Series: N/A
Pages: 496
Published: February 3, 2015
Source: publisher for review
Rating: 5 out of 5

David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier!

This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work.

See Jess' Review Too!

The Sculptor is beautiful. It’s a beautiful, tragic story with beautiful, flawed characters rendered in stunningly beautiful art. It’s the perfect graphic novel where neither story nor art overshadow the other, but it couldn’t be rendered in any other medium.

David Smith is a sculptor. He had some fame a few years ago, but bad attitude and artists’ block have left him penniless and an industry pariah. When his uncle, who died many years ago, shows up at a diner and offers David a chance to change that, David jumps. The only problem? He has to literally give his life to the power. David will die in 200 days.

But as his future dwindles, David can’t change his past. Just because he has new art doesn’t mean anyone wants to see it. He loses his apartment, his art gets impounded, and the last gallery that would show him, closes. Down and out, an angel appears out of the sky to tell him everything will be ok. Unfortunately, the devil might be real, but angels aren’t. She’s Meg, an actress working on a massive piece of street performance.

Meg could be a MPDG, but in reality, she’s just manic. Her depiction as a bipolar woman who won’t take medicine because of how it might change her is spot on. It’s incredibly realistic and hard to read. As David becomes increasingly obsessed and Meg becomes more depressed, their mental illnesses have such interplay and become interesting counterpoints to each other.

It takes a strong writer to tell you in the blurb and again in the first chapter, “the main character will die at the end of this book” and still create tension around that fact. As David approaches the end of his 200 days, beautifully depicted by a full page illustration of the sidewalk turning into calendar pages that abruptly fall off into a cliff, I found myself feeling anxious and sad and hopeful, right along with the characters. And at the last minute twist, my heart broke.

This is a book that asks what would you do if you had 6 months to live? How will you be remembered? It asks you to consider what’s most important in your life, but also are you living your life? It’s not easy to answer. Meg and David are both making good and bad choices. focusing on things that matter and things that don’t. It would be easy to hold one above the other and say, “emulate them! Live your life like this!”, but this is not that kind of book. And it’s better for it.

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