I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
Published by First Second on February 3, 2015
Genres: Graphic Novel, Fiction
David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier! This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface.
I admit that while I have absolutely nothing against graphic novels, they have never been my fiction vehicle of choice. Not being a visual person, I just assumed the artistry would be lost on someone like me. When The Sculptor arrived in the mail, I was intrigued enough by the jacket copy to give it a try and I am very glad that I did. The Sculptor tells the story of an artist who hits hard times and makes what can best be described as a Faustian bargain with death for the ability to make anything into a sculpture. Well, I say Faustian, but this is not a devil or Satan figure, rather, death takes the form of someone David knows and becomes a confidant of sorts as he desperately tries to cram a lifetime of art into 200 hundred days. Of course, the ultimate irony occurs and he meets the girl of his dreams, and so his war within himself becomes a frantic quest to make the most of everything, not just his art.
The story in The Sculptor was heartbreaking in many ways. As David makes his deal, he feels that he has nothing to live for. All he wants is a life where his art is relevant again. Even with his new powers, he finds that his abilities are not a magic solution. His desires seem to be for fame, at least initially, because he wants to prove that he isn’t a failure. Tied up in these feelings is grief for his family, which we learn in a series of flashbacks. Slowly, his desire for fame starts to take on a different focus and David starts making the city his art, which was one of my favorite parts of the story. His girlfriend, Meg, has a lot of MPDG qualities, and while that would normally bother me, it somehow worked within the story. The ending was nothing less than wonderfully heartbreaking, but still beautiful. I feel wholly unqualified to comment on the art itself, but I thought the artistry was engaging and full of motion and life. I really felt like I was in the story and the art was part of the reason for that. The Sculptor was a wonderful introduction to the word of graphic novels and I look forward to reading more.