Publishers Weekly released findings from their comics retailer survey last week, and once more all signs point to growth, particularly in regards to female readers. This is great news not just for people who care about representation in comics, but for people who care about the health of the comics industry. An influx of younger readers of any gender is what the comics industry needs so that publishers can engage them and keep them reading for years to come. It seems like a wide variety of publishers are getting this job done.
Two weeks ago, First Second Books released The Sculptor, Scott McCloud's long-awaited, five-years-in-the-making, latest graphic novel. It's a complex and nuanced work that functions as both an emotionally rich personal statement, and a masterclass in graphic storytelling (not surprising, given McCloud's authorship of the seminal Understanding Comics, and its two sequels, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics), and it's become an immediate commercial and critical success, shooting to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and garnering a wealth of rave reviews.
The book tells the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes… Which seems like a great deal, until he meets a mysterious woman named Meg, and falls desperately in love with her.
Since Scott McCloud first shot onto the cultural radar in the mid-80s, with his "reconstructionist" superhero series Zot!, he's been known as one of the modern masters of the comics form – his seminal 1993 volume Understanding Comics set a benchmark for intelligent analysis of graphic narrative language and technique (and became a go-to reference for college courses worldwide), his sequels, Reinventing Comics (2000) and Making Comics (2006) met with critical and commercial success, and his 1998 graphic novel The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln remains a fascinating and underrated attempt at melding the worlds of traditional and computer-generated cartooning. He's written a heaping handful of Superman stories, spoken and lectured around the world, and established himself as a comic creator, commentator, scholar and theorist without peer.
And this week, First Second Books is releasing his latest work, the five-years-in-the-making opus The Sculptor, the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes…
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For many Scott McCloud is a name that's synonymous with comics -- Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics -- but it's been awhile since the Zot creator has released sequential art that wasn't rooted in education. That changes on February 3 next year with the relase of The Sculptor from First Second, a story McCloud's had in mind for more than two decades and has been actively working on for five years.