Holy shitballs. I haven’t felt this wrung out by a graphic novel since I read Blankets, and I liked this one soooo much more. I’m not sure The Sculptor is going to be for everyone, but oh man, if it hits you, it’s going to straight up MURDER YOU.
The main character is David, a frustrated sculptor. It’s more complicated and lovely than this, but essentially he makes a deal with Death. He will trade his life for the ability to create the art he can see in his mind and the chance to be remembered as much as one human being can be remembered among billions. He has two hundred days to live if he takes the deal. The alternative, Death tells him, is to walk away from his art, meet a woman, start a family and live a long life. David chooses his art.
What follows is part meditation on life and the role of art in life and memory and identity. And it all feels really, really personal. The story is part of it. We learn a lot about David as he creates his art, as he continues to fail, as he meets a girl he falls in love with. And all the while he’s got this ticking clock of 200 days. A lot of it is also the artwork itself. This is actually one of my favorite things about graphic novels, the way that the whole medium works together to create an experience. It’s not just the words or the characters or the story, it’s also the colors and the lines and the way panels overlap and how fast you move between them and so many other things. In my opinion, this book uses all of those things perfectly to present its story.
I’m so glad I read it, and I need to get my own copy ASAP for eventual multiple readings.