Monday, July 13, 2009

Asterios Polyp

Asterios Polyp, a graphic novel by David Mazzucchelli.

From the back of the book:
"Who is Asterios Polyp? Architect, professor, author, husband, but that was all in the past. Now, as he marks half a century, he's become a shadow of his former self. But it's a stormy night, and a lightning bolt is about to set him on a fateful journey. "
"Acclaimed cartoonist David Mazzucchelli has masterfully crafted an enthralling story that plumbs the possibilities of the graphic novel and steers it into thrilling new territory."

There is no way I could possibly review this graphic novel and do it justice. Suffice it to say that this is another GREAT book, on scale with Maus, Fun Home, Persepolis, Stitches and others. David Mazzucchelli has produced many great comics over the years, from Batman: Year One with Frank Miller all the way through his brilliant self-published over-sized treasure trove Rubber Blanket, he has never disappointed. (May I dare to hope that NOW Rubber Blankets will FINALLY be reprinted in graphic novel form for god's sake? Dare to dream....) Asterios Polyp is quite simply one of the best graphic novels of ALL TIME. Again, like Stitches, this book actually lives up to the hype. I'm sure both of these books will dominate the Eisner's next year, and rightfully so, but Asterios Polyp will be put up on a pedestal, demonstrating what can be achieved in the graphic medium, that can not be achieved in a standard prose novel. The last thing I remember Mazzucchelli giving us, his long devoted fans, was the graphic novel adaptation of the Kafka-esque City of Glass novel by Paul Auster. To see him return to the medium triumphantly is a joy to behold. The sheer scope of what David manages in the massive tomb that is Asterios Polyp, will be taught in many graphic novel college courses for years to come. I am so glad David was able to produce this important work for all of us, for his old fans and new fans alike. Nothing else this year, or maybe for many years from now will be able to match this book. I'm not exaggerating here. Mazzucchelli uses a simple cartoon style to depict his protagonist, Asterios, but don't let the simple lines fool you. Every page is a visual masterpiece unto itself. His choice of color palette and lettering style changes and varies from page to page, and from chapter to chapter, from character to character. Nothing was an accident, every minute detail was thought out. This book is a study by itself. It can be read and re-read many times, and each time the reader will find something new and amazing, like Watchmen before it, this is the book that will always be considered a classic of the medium. Mazzucchelli is the new Pynchon of graphic fiction. Everyone must read this book, or at very least next time you are at your local Amazing Fantasy, pick it up and flip through it so you can see first hand what I am talking about here.

I can't believe I read two top-notch graphic novels in a row! Now, everything else I read this week will inevitably be a let down.

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