Comics guru crafts a masterpiece
Release Date: OUT NOW!
500 pages | Hardback Writer/ artist: Scott McCloud Publisher: Self Made Hero
McCloud’s fiction output has been limited of late. This enormous tome is the reason why – it took the Understanding Comics author five years to complete.
David Smith is a struggling sculptor. Striking a bargain with Death, David gains mastery of his art, but at a cost: he will die in 200 days. He’s fine with that, until a chance encounter with a girl changes his life…
As plots go, it’s far from remarkable: Faustian pacts and the redemptive power of love are both well- worn themes. It doesn’t matter – McCloud is aiming for mythic storytelling here. While the plot is archetypal, both David and his potential love, Meg, are fallible and believably human. There’s a kernel of truth at the core of these characters: in David’s arrogance and dedication to a set of ultimately pointless self- imposed rules, and in the deep sadness that underpins Meg’s wild- eyed enthusiasm for life.
The script is as lively and funny as it is heart- tuggingly melancholy. McCloud’s art, meanwhile, is evocative and restrained. Despite the wild visual possibilities of Smith’s power, the most prevalent image is simply him wandering the streets of New York.
The payoff is a little too neatly wrapped up. But the quiet humanity at the heart of The Sculptor makes for a graphic novel that’s gently romantic, properly hilarious and wince- inducingly relatable to anyone who’s ever obsessed over a project. Will Salmon