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The Sculptor Hardcover – February 3, 2015
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“*The fluidity of McCloud's visual narrative carries us along with a sweep impossible to duplicate in prose, and, through it its climax, the story's commitment to its harsh, inevitable, but ultimately sublime outcome qualifies this as a work of stunning, timeless graphic literature.” ―Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“Scott McCloud's The Sculptor is the best graphic novel I've read in years. It's about art and love and why we keep on trying. It will break your heart.” ―Neil Gaiman
About the Author
Scott McCloud is the award-winning author of Understanding Comics, Making Comics, Zot!, The Sculptor, and many other fiction and non-fiction comics spanning 30 years. An internationally-recognized authority on comics and visual communication, technology, and the power of storytelling, McCloud has lectured at Google, Pixar, Sony, and the Smithsonian Institution.
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Top customer reviews
The book is drawn in a beautiful evocative duotone with indigo hues that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also the perfect tone to create the mood that this story needs to create a a blues song, which underlines the sadness, desperation, depression and alienation of some of the characters, but also to create a magic ambience for David, this "indigo child", this gifted guy with great talent, enhanced ways of perception and supernatural abilities.
McCloud artwork is totally awesome, regarding use of colour, composition, framing and style.
McCloud depiction of New York urban area is absolutely glorious and masterful. He looks at the city as both as an insider and an outsider, because some of the images are really those that anybody visiting the Big Apple for the first time would take with them, the overwhelming but thrilling presence of concrete, steel and skyscrapers. On the other hand, MCloud knows the city and is also able to depict its more rural or parkland areas with freshness and a great bucolic feeling, which is used as an emotional counterpoint to the urban settings, where most of the story happens. As an insider, McCloud shows the New York of the New Yorkers, the ambience of the city, but also the city of the people. Every secondary or tertiary figure and passer-by character depicted in the streets is fully there, even most of those in the background. Their body language, clothing and attitude tell us a story of who they, we see them as individuals who happen to cross the street and the vignette, not as mere accessories to the main characters or the image. This is one of the reasons I love reading comics on digital format as the zooming allows us to do that easily, and fully be there within the image, and notice the tiniest scratch or detail.
There are a few surreal images depicted in the book, many of them beautifully drawn and impacting. There is a strong presence of oneiric elements as well. I one of my previous reviews, I mentioned the fact that Magic Realism can be easily mixed up with fantasy and surrealism to describe Latin-American novels as deniable part of the genre. Here we have the contrary case, this is, to me, an undeniable Magic Realism work, even if North-American, and not many people are focusing on that. So, which elements are part of the Magic Realism genre in The Sculptor?
> Fantastical elements (levitation, premonitory dreams), TICK
> Real-word setting, TICK
> The story is told as is nothing extraordinary was taking place, magical events are accepted in the same plane as those that aren't, TICK
> Use of multiple planes of reality, in this case the oneiric and the awakened state, TICK
> Metafiction, that is, the narrator intentionally exposes themselves as the author of the story, TICK
> Heightened awareness of mystery, TICK
> Social critique, In this case about the art market. TICK
On the other hand, there are important literary connections the reader will make at the beginning, or at least I did, that of the Faustian-like plot being the most important.
I thought that the narrative and characterisation of The Sculptor did not match the finesse of the artwork. Although I liked the overall plot and ending, some characters are a bit clichéd, like Olly and Finn.The character of Meg seemed a bit non-believable to me, a good-Samaritan Lolita, but it turns out that the character has some surprises and is based on MCloud's wife and on their own love story. Ouch! However David and Harry's characters are roundly profiled and created.
The beginning of the book was exhilarating, witty and interesting, then turned into a boring immature love story to then gain momentum again and end brilliantly. The book mixes dialogues that deal with what Art is and is not, how Art is produced, how Art is sold and marketed and what makes a successful artist. On the other hand we see how life and Art mix in intricate ways, how the artist's life and the artist' art feed each other, and how most talented artists would not make it.
The ending was genuine and the one that I wanted to see. Some rules can't be broken ever, some thing simple are that way, as Death would say. And changing the end to please readers would have been an artistic betrayal to the author's own vision and the inner logic of the story.
Overall, a very enjoyable reading, with some thought-provoking moments, and awesome artwork.
The Sculptor is one of those stories that takes a concept – in this case, devoting one’s life to art – and the story comes back, agan and again, to examining that question from many angles. This is an approach that McCloud relied heavily on in his years-ago superhero series Zot!, and that I also associate with science fiction novels like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge. I really enjoy this form of storytelling.
mccloud-sculptor-107One of the things I like best about The Sculptor is that it tells its story, and examines its themes, without spelling everything out for the reader. For example, the main character, David, gives up everything to be an artist – but McCloud leaves it up to the reader to decide if David’s art is any good. (Within the story, some art-educated characters like David’s work, others are not impressed.) The two main characters – David and Meg – are well-developed and very rounded. When she first appears in David’s life, Meg can seem like she’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but that impression is unfair; one hallmark of the MPDG is that she seems to have no life outside of trying to improve the male main character’s life, and that’s definitely not the case here.
The Sculptor has terrific art; McCloud’s drawings are human and warm (despite the chilly blue color palette), and his environments are especially well drawn, making the various New York City locations seem real and complete. More importantly, McCloud is a master storyteller, and his layouts are devoted first and foremost to crystal-clear storytelling. But when the story requires innovative layouts, McCloud more than rises to the occasion. (There’s a sequence in which someone’s life passes before their eyes which is particularly stunning.)
By the way, if you're not a fan of the cover image, remove the dust jacket; the cover underneath is quite nice.
Most recent customer reviews
Beautifully designed. Extra fun. A breathtaking tangent