14 June 2013

Asterios Polyp

Summary from Goodreads:
The triumphant return of one of comics’ greatest talents, with an engrossing story of one man’s search for love, meaning, sanity, and perfect architectural proportions. An epic story long awaited, and well worth the wait.

Meet Asterios Polyp: middle-aged, meagerly successful architect and teacher, aesthete and womanizer, whose life is wholly upended when his New York City apartment goes up in flames. In a tenacious daze, he leaves the city and relocates to a small town in the American heartland. But what is this “escape” really about?

As the story unfolds, moving between the present and the past, we begin to understand this confounding yet fascinating character, and how he’s gotten to where he is. And isn’t. And we meet Hana: a sweet, smart, first-generation Japanese American artist with whom he had made a blissful life. But now she’s gone. Did Asterios do something to drive her away? What has happened to her? Is she even alive? All the questions will be answered, eventually.

In the meantime, we are enthralled by Mazzucchelli’s extraordinarily imagined world of brilliantly conceived eccentrics, sharply observed social mores, and deftly depicted asides on everything from design theory to the nature of human perception.

Asterios Polyp is David Mazzucchelli’s masterpiece: a great American graphic novel.

Next up in my catch-up-with-graphic-novels-I-missed I tracked down a copy of Asterios Polyp at the public library. A much-referenced book, so I was very interested in the story and style.

The art/drawing style is very rewarding.  I hesitate to say it has a "mod" feel, because I don't think that's exactly it, but the limited color palettes made me think of a more vintage style.  The story didn't make quite as much sense to me.  It felt overly convoluted - and I'm not quite sure what was up with the twin thing except that it fed Asterios's obsession with duality - but I liked the coverage of Asterios's entire life and how he was forced to re-invent himself.  Fabulous sequence of "everyday" events about 2/3 through.

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