Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

What would you do in the name of art?

Work hard? Stick to your principles or break them?

Would you make a deal with death?

That's just what happens in the new magnum opus by Scott McCloud, The Sculptor, which starts with a drunken young sculptor named David Smith in a bar, talking with his "Uncle Harry".

He trades his life for 200 days of amazing sculpting skills, where he can make anything he wants using only his bare hands.

But, of course, not long after that, he meets the lovely Meg. She may be a bit messed up, but when she's doing well, she's got her head on straight:

From the start of the book, we get interesting visual points of view, but I confess it took me a little while to get used to them or become fond of the technique. We spend as much time looking at details inside a diner - the soda jet, the ketchup, David's hands, the fork on his plate - as we do at David, and that continues to hold true. 

There's also a very real question about what is happening - whether the short scene at the start renders the entire thing a dream, or whether what follows is reality that catches up much, much later in the book. But I digress.

David turns out to be a not-entirely-sympathetic main character, which makes him that much more believable, even as the otherworldly plot unfurls. He also is full of interesting principles, for which he's more than willing to get up on his soapbox (metaphorically).  Principles about not selling out, and about what is and is not permissible.

In addition to principles, there are lots of moral and ethical issues in this humongous (496 pages!) graphic novel, including issues of what is and isn't important in life and in art, and what constitutes a life at all. 

Speaking of life, and getting back to the plot, David Smith finds love and a real life and more before he loses it all. Or does he win? 

Maybe it's all a matter of perspective. Maybe what's real and what's fantasy is perspective. Maybe you should read it so you should find out what your perspective is.

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