Cartoonist and comic theorist Scott McCloud’s debut full-length novel The Sculptor is a wonderful contribution to the graphic novel medium.
My first experience with McCloud’s work was his seminal text Understanding Comics which is the graphic equivalent of a textbook. Understanding Comics itself is something of an unwieldy beast in that it is a textbook about comics, written as a comic. To create such a monster is no small feat, and it’s no surprise that such a brain is capable of churning out what amounts to one of the best graphic novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the past decade.
The Sculptor is the story of struggling artist and sculptor David Smith who makes a deal with death for success. What follows is a stunningly calculated foray into the world of New York City and the lives of a struggling artist.
But there’s a love story. There has to be a love story with a cover like that, right? Smith’s pitfalls as an artist (self-consciousness, fear, apathy, malaise for the subjectivity of art in and of itself) are those which manifest in his love-life as well. And with only 200 days remaining under his belt, what is to become of a romance as powerful as Tristan and Isolde? You’ll have to read the book to find out that one.
And beneath it all is the conception of celebrity as it applies to artist. What becomes of the spiritual benefits of creation in the throes of success? What becomes of the spiritual benefits of creation when there’s no success? The answer might not quite be what you’re thinking.
McCloud’s work is intricately detailed and beautifully preconceived. His panels move with fluidity and convey a story that is downright unique in its inception. The flashbacks are seamlessly connected, the splash pages are monolithic in their weight, and the final punch to this stunning graphic novel is nothing like what you’d expect.
For new and old comic fans alike, McCloud’s work is brilliant and absolutely work a peek.
Stars = 5/5