Book Review: The Sculptor

The Sculptor
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When David Smith makes a deal with Death, he gains power over stone and metal to create his sculptures, but the deal involves more than he knows, and his artistic talent is the only thing he has left to carry him through. As he comes to grips with his own art, his friendships and relationships begin to suffer and he has to lose everything to find himself.

This is the most depressing thing I’ve read all year. Ugh. I can’t deny that it’s very powerful, but I didn’t like the way it made me feel. And I didn’t like the smatterings of profanity. At least the profanity wasn’t on every page, so I was able to mostly ignore it and read through the entire book. And then there was some nudity towards the end that got on my nerves, so yeah. bleh.

The thing is… it’s really very well-written and the artwork is so incredible! The story line, the characters, the relationships, and dialogue, and mood and tone and everything… it’s genius! But I didn’t LIKE it. I didn’t like how it made me feel. I thought it was depressing and grotesque and hopeless. The art is so beautiful, but it depicts such ugly things. It made me uncomfortable.

The main character, David, is a tortured artist, with some serious emotional and psychological issues. I mean, this guy really tortures himself internally and beats himself up, and it shows in his sculptures, which are ragged and ugly and frightening. It’s always sculptures of people in pain or random uncomfortable images that made me cringe. And of course, he’s in a dysfunctional relationship with someone just as messed up as himself. And all his friends are basically horrible and screwed up people too.

They are all really powerful and energetic characters, and their stories are compelling and interesting. But I hated them all. Their lives are just so spiritually ugly. I didn’t want to know them.
But then, someone would do something lovely, something self-sacrificing and beautiful, and I would be hooked into the story again. The real problem is that despite all that, I really cared about the characters. I wanted them to succeed and be happy. That’s what made it so depressing!
There are some really beautiful parts to this story, but the ugliness was too much for me. sigh.

It certainly has some deeper themes to it, since it’s all about Death, and the meaning of Life, and the nature of Art. But I don’t like the conclusions to those themes. I don’t like the answers given to those questions, and I don’t agree with the author’s philosophy of life or his portrayal of the creative mind.
This was upsetting to read.

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