It’s not often that a graphic novel or comic comes into my life that touches me on a deep emotional level, but Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor did just that. I was bawling my eyes out by the time I got to the end and then just simply started reading it all over again. It truly is an extraordinary book. And when Neil Gaiman says that it will ‘break your heart’, you know that you’re in for a rollercoaster ride.
David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the eleventh hour isn’t making it any easier.
David Smith has hit rock bottom. He’s depressed, lonely and angry. So very angry. After reaching the peak of fame in the art world for his sculptures, he quickly fell from grace and now has just a few dollars and an eviction notice to his name. Enter Death in the form of his dead great uncle Harry who offers him a deal. For someone like David who doesn’t feel that he has anything to live for other than his art, it’s a deal that is hard not to say yes to. He gets 200 days left to live and in return, Death gives him the gift to be able to mold any and all substances into any form that he chooses using just his hands. He can bend metal and stone within moments to create all the images that he’s had in his head and sketch book for years.
David wants his art to be seen but he just can’t seem to catch a break. No-one seems to want to buy his sculptures. Then he’s left without a home, money and he really does hit rock bottom. It’s only then that he meets Meg. Wonderful, bonkers, spontaneous Meg, who saves him and pulls him into her whirlwind life. She helps him to live again, breathe again and he can finally see what it means to be alive. The catch, of course, is that he only has a limited time left on earth, which means a limited time spend with Meg so he needs to make it count. They both do.
For those of us who suffer with depression and social anxiety, this book references it really well. Meg is clearly a manic-depressive and David gets incredibly anxious around people he doesn’t know, as well has obviously suffering with clinical depression (please be aware that there are also references to suicide and self harm). This book struck so many chords with me on so many levels. I’ve been to some of the places that David has, been that low and that lost. I also suffer with the same emotional highs and lows that Meg does, hence why this book got to me, but in a good way I might add. It reminded me that I’m still here, still alive, still fighting. I cannot even begin to describe how much the message of this book hit me around the back of the head with the force of a 10-ton truck and made me reevaluate what is truly important in my life.
Mr Gaiman is right: this book will indeed break your heart. It is a truly extraordinary story, beautifully told and wonderfully executed. It is a story about art, depression, hopelessness, but above all else, it’s about love. Love and hope. It is a story that tells you to get out there and to appreciate each and every single day that you have on this earth because tomorrow could well your last. Tell your friends and family that you love them as often as you can. Make time for those people who you’ve lost touch with or drifted apart from because you didn’t make the effort.
Live each day and live it well.
You are alive and time is a precious thing. Don’t you dare waste it.
Title: The Sculptor
Author: Scott McCloud
Publisher: Self Made Hero