Monday, December 1, 2014

'The Sculptor'

When was the last time you read a graphic novel and cried?

Usually, I get caught up in the action, wishing I could fly, or beat the holy crap out of the villain.  I end up wanting to wear fantastic armor and soar with Iron Man.  Or follow The Sandman on his travels.  

But when Scott McCloud's new graphic novel, 'The Sculptor', landed with a thud (literally; the book is 490 pages of amazement) on my porch, I couldn't believe my eyes.  I asked for an ARC from the publisher, and they were quick to honor that request.

I was in for a treat.  And lots of heartbreak.

It has a 'good guy', but he's not always so....good.  David Smith has a heart, he has morals. But he also has a dark side that he can't explain away.  You see, he's made a pact with Death, who comes to him in the form of his long-dead Uncle Harry. Despondent, broke, and lacking motivation, David will do anything to bring his name back into the art world.

And the pact?  In exchange for only having 200 days to live, David is given his heart's desire: The ability to sculpt anything with his bare hands.

But David is still searching for inspiration.  He takes to the streets and creates objects that are beyond imagining.  His childhood friend, Ollie, manages an art gallery, and David's latest work is not well-reviewed.  David's rivalry with fellow artist, Finn, is made even more difficult because Finn and Ollie are involved in a love affair.  

When David meets Meg, the love of his life, he finds happiness at last.  But that new life takes a sudden turn when he is unable to tell her about his pact with Death.

It's heartbreaking, yet uplifting.  It's about the sacrifices we make for the ones we love.  It's also about the sacrifices we make for our art.  And it's also about how far we would go to attain success in life and in work.

I adore Meg.  She is strong and compulsive.  She is weak and depressed.  She is everything that David needs.  As for David, I sometimes hated him, yet I loved him and my sorrow only grew as he neared the end of the road.

Yes, it's a big book.  And the graphics are in black and white.  But the lack of color only adds to the story; the incredible highs and sorrowful lows.  It keeps your mind on David's journey and makes you think about your own choices. Would you make a pact with Death?  Would you shorten your life just so you could have your heart's desire?
Author Scott McCloud

Scott McCloud has crafted an amazing story full of unforgettable characters.

I think you'll feel the same way.

Scott McCloud is the award-winning author of 'Understanding Comics', 'Zot', and many other fiction and non-fiction comics spanning thirty years.  Visit him at  'The Sculptor', published by Firstsecond Books, will be published on February 3, 2015.  Book Hog would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.

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