September 16, 2015

Book Review: "The Sculptor" by Scott McCloud

(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last 18 months to be considered. For the complete list of all books reviewed here, as well as the next books scheduled to be read, click here.)

The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud

The Sculptor
By Scott McCloud
First Second
Reviewed by Jason Pettus

It's undeniable that Scott McCloud has become one of the leading voices in contemporary society for the consideration of comics as an art form, through the remarkable series of deconstructionist nonfiction books he's published over the years on the subject; and it's undeniable that his newest fictional comics project, The Sculptor, is a gorgeous working example of all the lessons he advocates to others, an obvious labor of love that always looks perfect throughout its entire whopping 500 pages. No, the problem with The Sculptor is in fact its storyline, a treacly sentimental snoozer that made me gag on a regular basis just from its overly sugary sweetness, the story of a failed artist who literally makes a deal with the devil to become the greatest sculptor of all time (able to magically sculpt brick and granite with his bare hands), but with the agreement to sell his soul in exactly 200 days, just in time to fall in love with a manic pixie dream girl and realize that he doesn't want to die after all, the vast majority of the book's running time devoted to gooey conversations between the two about lovely love loverly LOVE love lovely love love LOVE love.

I hate to be so critical of this book, because admittedly the graphics are impressive and beautiful, a painstaking endeavor that undoubtedly took McCloud years if not a decade or more to complete; but I question the point of spending all that time and energy marrying such graphics to such a terrible actual story, a growing plague among contemporary comics artists that, to be fair, haunts the work of a lot more sensitive young white men than just McCloud himself. (See for example Craig Thompson's fucking unreadable Blankets; or better yet, don't.) McCloud has been hugely influential on convincing an entire generation to take comics more seriously as a legitimate art form; but the medium is never going to be considered a valid form of narrative literary storytelling as long as the artists keep putting such an underwhelming emphasis on the actual story part, and The Sculptor is unfortunately an impressive but wasteful example of exactly what I'm talking about. Buyer beware.

Out of 10: 9.2 for the artwork, 6.2 for the writing

Read even more about The Sculptor: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads | LibraryThing | Shelfari | Wikipedia

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:06 AM, September 16, 2015. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |