Death, Love and the Artist
Rating: Superb, 9 of 10
It is common believe – and not without good reason – that people who talk or write on a very theoretical level are not the ones who will be able to produce something in the quality they are others asking for. Critics for one thing are seldom loved, some of them even feared for their harsh and bitter words. There are also others who believe to know better and teach or make presentations about writing, painting without ever experiencing those things by themselves. Some of them try and learn it the hard way that writing and/or talking about something is completely different to just doing it.
This book is a good example that there are exceptions.
The first panel of the book shows us a man hanging in mid-air only a few inches right above the floor. The scenery looks like an alley, somewhere in a big city. So far that’s all we see. On the next page we are shown a scene in a small restaurant, a man named David Smith sitting alone at a table ordering one drink after the other. He seems broken, totally lost and a bit drunk. Right afterwards another man approaches his table and we are introduced to Uncle Harry, he asks him what has happened and the man tells him about his situation. We learn that he is a sculptor who worked hard to become one of the best, for a moment there even was success in plain sight but he kinda lost it all. He says about himself that he is not really good with people and this seems to be one of the main problems. We also learn about his love life, his family and his private situation. After a few moments he stops, looks at Uncle Henry and remembers that Uncle Harry already died.
David: God, it’s been so long.
Uncle Harry: It has, yeah.
David: Feels like a million years, doesn’t it?
Uncle Harry: Uh-huh.
David: Man, the last time I saw you, you were…
David: … dead.
This is the moment where we meet Death and David gets offered a chance, giving his live for art, getting the opportunity to change something, to become famous beyond imagination. The deal is that he will receive this gift for a limited time and then he dies. As you – dear reader – may imagine David takes the deal and that’s where the story gets rolling. We are confronted with potential, failure, love and drama in all its varied incarnations. Scott McCloud delivers more then well and keeps the suspense until the very end. The speed of the storytelling changes during the book and it fits well. I couldn’t stop reading it, I only made a few breaks while reading the story.
The graphic style of the book is amazingly well crafted, too. The characters, dialogues and the scenery in each panel is well done, accompanying the story perfect. One of my favourite scenes is the first encounter with Meg.
Apart from the wonderful storytelling and graphic style there is one thing that I want to point out especially. David takes the deal because he decides to invest all the time he has left into his talent, setting the goal of being exceptionally famous in the end. He kinda believes that he will not fall in love, have any kind of social life that may stop him from doing that during this limited time. On his way he meets a girl and Scott McCloud delivers a loveable character. She is cute, intelligent, beautiful, funny and simply amazing, as it is mentioned by her friends in the story, it’s impossible not falling in love with her. They start having a relationship and everythings seems to work out …
… with the usual ups and downs and much more. But go read for yourself, the story will make you laugh, smile and cry. There is love, drama, even a bit action, comedy, fame and much more. The characters feel like realistic, human beings and the story, which has many fantasy-elements feels so real that you start to get the same suspense like the characters do, thanks to the pacing storytelling.
Scott McCloud, who is famous for his works like “Understanding Comics”, “Reinventing Comics” where he showed that he can describe the fun, the entertaining factor of reading comics. Apart from that he also received quite a number of awards during his career as an artist and storyteller. This time he published an exceptional piece of work and if there are some stories of work close to Will Eisners best Graphic Novels this is surely one of them. It is by any means already one of the best graphic novels of this year … so, Thank you, Scott McCloud. You made my day.