By Scott McCloud
Author’s Website: http://scottmccloud.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Scott
It’s a rare event that a graphic novel moves you in the way The Sculptor does. Scott McCloud, comic theorist extraordinaire, dives into the adult market with a spark of panache and flair. I’ve followed McCloud’s work from the humble beginnings of Zot! to his seminal Understanding Comics and Making Comics; never before in his career has he taken picture and word to the commanding and resounding story of the personal demons of the artist; as the Goo Goo Dolls would say, “Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce.”
David Smith, the protagonist of the story, is a sculptor by trade, and forms quite the appealing character. A deal is all it takes and he’s pushed to and beyond the simple confines of the creative artistic process; however left without home, family or fiscal support, he becomes destitute, sleeping on the boardwalk of the streets of the Big Apple. Finding a muse, in Meg, is what it takes for him to confront those four artistic demons. His ego is batted around like a tethered ball. Public opinion, what every artist subconsciously strives to be positive is met with harsh criticism. Commercially, he’s an artist who has had his day locked out of the buyer’s market by scandal. Art drives all three in his life taking him and the reader on an intimate journey through an artist’s mind and life and soul.
Drawing on borrowed time, as it were, the story’s pace eases the reader in and out of David’s ebbs and tides. It never gets ahead of itself and continues to pull the reader through on the rollicking journey of David’s “new” career. The best thing about the pacing is that McCloud deftly weaves a sculptor, a tactile art form of its own, seemingly fluidly into the graphic novel format; tactile only in the sense of the feeling of hands on paper. An interesting standpoint from the primary theorist on comics, the sculptor’s mind has drives and visions of it’s own (having practice at both) and the mindset is easily applied to the creation of any visual art, past or present.
It’s the dealing in the here and now where the light shines so brightly in this pinnacle work. David’s living from day to day mirrors the reader’s, and the feeling of “wasted time” is all too familiar to the true artist. It truly is as Neil Gaiman, (creator and writer of the critically acclaimed Sandman):
“It’s about art and love and why we keep on trying.”
It is more as well: showcasing the aforementioned four demons of the artistic world in all there grandeur. The art literally flows from David’s hands, much like McCloud’s own hand, diligently plying the deft and stylistic drawing. The love for his chosen means of expression, Scott McCloud, pens some of his finest art in this graphic medium. The love of life flows through the words on the page.
For fans of Jason Lute’s Jar of Fools, Art Speigelman’s Maus , Gilbert Hernandez’ work, Scott McCloud’s previous work, or lovers of a heart wrenching story, The Sculptor definitely earns it’s 5 star rating and should be a must for winter’s reading. I cannot recommend a finer example of a graphic novel, and leave you with James Kochalka infamous words …
“…what is art not?”