Friday, July 22, 2011

Tradio #1 - Asterios Polyp

Welcome to my inaugural Tradio!  I know, I sounds like it should be an audio podcast.  It may be someday...kind of why I picked the name.  Just kind of keeping an eye on the future. 

My first review is of a graphic novel that wasn't on my list of potential reads.  That was by design.  I wanted to present something that would be a little bit of a curve ball that not a lot of people may have read, but should really find and spend some time with. 

Asterios Polyp is a graphic novel published in 2009 that was both written and drawn by David Mazzucchelli.  If that name sounds familiar to some comic fans, that is the same Mazzucchelli who is famous for both his run on Daredevil with writers Denny O'Neil and Frank Miller and his spectacular work on Batman: Year One, again with Frank Miller.  If you haven't read Batman: Year are missing out.  Mazzucchelli is a master of using motion and emotion in his steady, even pencils.  He was a perfect match for the dark and brooding crime-fighters of both Gotham City and Hell's Kitchen.  With Asterios Polyp you see no tights, but you see a very heart-felt story that ranks up there with any of Mazzucchelli's other, more well-known work. 

The graphic novel focuses on the life of a professor of architecture named, not surprisingly, Asterios Polyp.  Over the course of the book, we begin with an odd introduction to Asterios and his life is slowly and artfully explained through dream-sequences, flashbacks, and his current dealings as his life is thrown one curve ball after another.  This is no everyman story.  You won't always like Asterios.  You aren't suppose to.  But more than identifying with the titular character, you get to see the world through his experiences and how he interacts with those around him.  You will see his loves, his passions, his triumphs, and tragedies and in the end you will gain a greater understanding of a character who grows over the course of a relatively short amount of time.  You will love going on the journey with him.  The way Mazzucchelli conveys the plot of the story through both the running narrative and the use of his simple interplay between art and color are nothing short of a modern masterpiece.  His understanding of artistic form leads to the perfect use of the graphic novel medium to produce a work that just would not be able to function in any other form.  Even taking away the world balloons would hurt the overall narrative since the way he uses them is so integral to the overall way that the story is presented.  Quirky, yet relatable characters abound and in the end, you are smiling inside for the journey that Asterios has taken and the way in which Mazzucchelli got you there. 

Needless to say, I strongly recommend this work.  I borrowed this copy from the local library and I am sure that more than a few such institutions have it in their collection.  I would say, find a quiet night, pour yourself a warm cup of coffee, and snuggle in with Asterios Polyp.  You will enjoy the journey and once you start, you won't want to stop until you get to the stunning conclusion.  Till next time, imaginary readers.

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