Date Completed: 3/17/15
Neil Gaiman claims this is the best graphic novel he’s read in “a while”. While it’s not the best graphic novel I’ve read in a while, I do believe this story was fantastic.
Sculptor starts off with the stereotypical whiny starving artist trope, as our protagonist, David, lives in New York and vows to never take charity and never leave New York, among dozens of promises he makes to himself. He finds himself in a sticky situation when he’s fired from his job and nobody’s buying his art. Interestingly, Death appears and makes him an offer; David can choose to be able to sculpt anything with his hands, but in exchange David only has 200 days left to live. David feels like a nobody, and makes the choice to take the offer, then the story unfolds in new ways.
I didn’t feel attached to David as a character, as he seemed whiny in the worst way. He was jealous at all the wrong times, selfish and indecisive, yet his relationship with Meg did bring out a better side to him. I did like that Meg is bipolar. The characterization of her bipolar was overly dramatic at times, but cut through to what I believe living with such a state of mental health can feel like at times. The entire premise of their relationship did feel a bit like the manic pixie dream girl trope as well, so we have starving artist meets manic pixie dream girl in a similar vein as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (except David’s already been fired from his boring desk job). This connection becomes especially apparent when they spend more time together towards the end, as Meg dares him to break more of his promises to himself and do wild fun things (although it was kind of sweet).
What is most effective about this book, however, is not the character development, but the graphics. I love the way McCloud draws each panel, sometimes letting them hang off the edge of the page. There are two particularly striking series of images near the end, that stand out to me the most, and they are both run together. I can’t say too much without giving anything away, but the images are stunning and took my breath away. Also the ending was full of emotions for me, despite having not particularly liked the characters themselves. Yet another attempt to portray the flightiness of life, and it did inspire me (or remind me, rather) to value the little things in life.
If you don’t typically read graphic novels, I recommend you give this one a try, as the art is amazing.
Scott McCloud has written several lengthy graphic novels as well as many shorter comics. He is best known (I believe) for his Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. You can find out more about him and read his 24 hour comic at his website.