The Sculptor

Author and artist Scott McCloud is best known for his groundbreaking work, Understanding Comics, an academic look at the medium's content, form and history delivered in a sequential art form (i.e., a comic book). If Understanding Comics is the explanation of everything, The Sculptor is proof that it all makes sense. McCloud's new graphic novel fully utilizes the medium's abilities from lettering and art to storytelling and control over time and space. The story of a sculptor who has used up his 15 minutes of fame and makes a deal with Death to restart his career is touching and heart-wrenching as it flits between love and death, fame and obscurity. McCloud squeezes as much as he can out of each panel, using the methods he outlined in Understanding Comics to draw readers into the scenes and emotions. Word balloons are bolded or fade out as volumes rise and lower or the balloons are cropped by the panel's edge to indicate half-overheard conversations at a party. Shading and coloring—McCloud does wonders with only blue and black ink—create isolating or intimate moments while panel quantity and spacing speeds time or keeps us transfixed in a moment. A flawless execution coupled with a personal story identifiable to many, The Sculptor begs to be reread for study and pleasure.