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Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
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Asterios Polyp (2009)

by David Mazzucchelli

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
891459,915 (4.19)89
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» See also 89 mentions

English (42)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
A lot of comics, even long-form literary “graphic novels,” tend to excel either visually or narratively, but rarely both. Especially when a single person serves as both the writer and the artist, there’s often a noticeable strength in one area. In most well done comics, I don’t even notice this disparity as I’m reading. I only mention it here because in Asterios Polyp, both the art and the narrative are so strong and interdependent on each other that it made me start noticing weaknesses in other comics. And that’s not a bad thing.

I couldn’t provide a plot summary without giving away some of the details that Mazzucchelli drips to the reader throughout the course of the entire book. There’s not a single blatant info dump to speak of. The characters don’t ask too many questions of each other, in a way respecting each other’s privacy. For the reader, the art serves to define them without relying on words—for example, Asterios’s blue geometric shape design melding with Hana’s red sketchy design. The words they do use are well chosen and reveal something significant about them—for example, the opening scene contradicts multiple things Asterios says in flashbacks later…what has happened to him in the meantime? Mazzucchelli lets us think about it.

During an interview with Terry Gross, one of the “Breaking Bad” writers (either Peter Gould or Thomas Schnauz) said, “Give your audience two and two, and let them make four. They’ll love you forever.” Easier said than done, but Mazzucchelli nails it. And he weaves the artwork into the words in a way in which neither could exist alone. This feels like a comic that was conceived as a comic, or maybe an art project that we lump in with comics because of its similarity in format. It’s something special, a model for comics done correctly. ( )
1 vote JLSmither | Apr 26, 2014 |
Graphic novel about an arrogant award-winning architect who's not actually ever built anything except a treehouse. As his life unfolds, his self-centered preoccupation with himself reaches a peak after which a relationship he's in crumbles and he's plunged to the depths of despair. Religion, mortality, art and philosophy are themes that are delivered strongly in this graphic novel.

The simplicity to the drawings make very bold statements and the dialogue, when provided enhance the drawings, rather than take precedence over them. ( )
1 vote cameling | Apr 22, 2014 |
Wow. Just finished in one reading session this magical work of art. Together with "Daytripper", this is my all time favorite graphic novel. I don't have much to say about it, as I don't think I have rationalized it much yet: visually, it's extremely creative and exciting. Rich with inventions and ideas.

The story, well, it reminded me of a Chinese saying: "Two thirds of what we see is behind our eyes", and a lot of this novel is about that crucial aspect of human existence.

I see this as a love story, and - among many other things - a story about the communication challenges that we experience because of our differences. The way humans interact with each other is visualized with such elegance! But what I loved the most is that his novel has a living and breathing soul, a true soul that you can see much better in the second part. I found myself to be really moved towards the end. And also I think I found a certain kind of wisdom, that sees through selfish attitudes and behaviours as something that needs to be overcome and understood, in order to grow up.

Asterios and Hana are one of the most fascinating and real couples I've ever encountered in fiction. Bravo, David!! Straordinario!! ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
Wow. Just finished in one reading session this magical work of art. Together with "Daytripper", this is my all time favorite graphic novel. I don't have much to say about it, as I don't think I have rationalized it much yet: visually, it's extremely creative and exciting. Rich with inventions and ideas.

The story, well, it reminded me of a Chinese saying: "Two thirds of what we see is behind our eyes", and a lot of this novel is about that crucial aspect of human existence.

I see this as a love story, and - among many other things - a story about the communication challenges that we experience because of our differences. The way humans interact with each other is visualized with such elegance! But what I loved the most is that his novel has a living and breathing soul, a true soul that you can see much better in the second part. I found myself to be really moved towards the end. And also I think I found a certain kind of wisdom, that sees through selfish attitudes and behaviours as something that needs to be overcome and understood, in order to grow up.

Asterios and Hana are one of the most fascinating and real couples I've ever encountered in fiction. Bravo, David!! Straordinario!! ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
Wonderful, different than anything I read before. Would've given 5 stars if not for the ending. ( )
  lloyd1175 | Mar 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
LJ Best Graphic Novels 2009: In a masterfully visual relationship drama, Mazzucchelli uses colors, shapes, motifs, graphic techniques, and art styles in inventive ways to drive home the story of an award-winning but name-only architect who painfully rebuilds his own life after he loses home and marriage.
 
It’s a shame that such an artistically accomplished work doesn’t have a story of the same high quality.
 
If Mazzucchelli wasn't already considered one of the greatest living cartoonists, he probably should be now. This is a work that demands to be read, re-read, analyzed, and discussed. It's a great example of something that could only be done in comics. The medium is certainly richer for its existence.
 
This is a book that stands with works by Updike, Roth, and other giants of American literature. It is undoubtedly one of the best novels of the year.
added by stephmo | editThe Stranger, Paul Constant (Aug 25, 2009)
 
“Asterios Polyp,” which took a decade for Mr. Mazzucchelli to complete, has been well worth the wait. Its ambition jump-starts the future of the graphic novel.
 

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307377326, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:51 -0400)

Asterios Polyp, its arrogant, prickly protagonist, is an award-winning architect who's never built an actual building, and a pedant in the midst of a spiritual crisis. After the structure of his own life falls apart, he runs away to try to rebuild it into something new.… (more)

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