The Perfect Sculpted Word: The Sculptor

GameStop, Inc.

Written & Art By Scott McCloud
First Second
ISBN: 978-1596435735

All artists want their art to influence the world and to leave behind a legacy that will last for ages. David Smith desperately wants to be this type of artist, but he’s not gaining any traction in the art world. He is days away from becoming a homeless, starving artist, so when Death visits him in the guise of his Uncle Harry and offers him a trade, David accepts. For two hundred days, David can sculpt any material to his will and when the time is up he dies. Within that short time frame, David is supposed to use his new ability to gain notoriety and at first he jumps headfirst into SculptorCover-300rgbcreating new sculptors. When he doesn’t get the reaction he wants, David becomes depressed and loses his motivation until he meets Meg. He falls in love and learns more about life and art than ever before.

Scott McCloud is the writer and artist for Understanding Comics and the superhero series, Zot. He’s been reclusive for the past few years, though we know he has been busy and Sculptor is why. McCloud is genius when it comes to panel placement and plot pacing for comic books. It is mostly due to his extensive career writing about how to write and draw comics, but this comic shows how greatly he could put his words into action…er…drawings.

The story grasps elements of the classic life vs. death tale as well incorporating elements of magic realism. While David’s magic ability is central to the story, it acts as a side element only to enhance the large plot of David trying to make a name for himself and discovering the real important things in life. In most stories, as soon as the hero receives the magic talent, tool, etc. things instantly change and roll down hill from there. Nothing, however, immediately happens to David. McCloud allows stark reality to play into The Sculptor, rather than giving way to the regular fantasy tropes. This also sends a message that things can only change when you take bold, active steps, which is what David is forced to do and ultimately is leads to an unexpected ending.

When it comes to McCloud’s art, you can’t really go wrong with anything. He’s mastered a combination of cartoonish-ness with realism that has worked for him for years and will continue to so.

The Sculptor really is a fine example of graphic novel storytelling and should be considered an immediate classic. Its meaning and themes will probably be the subject of academic essays for years to come.

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