Asterios Polyp comes with a certain amount of baggage: That it took so long to complete (a decade) and that David Mazzucchelli's small output as an artist has seen some of the finest books in our shop (Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: Year One, City of Glass). The word anticipation could not be used any more heavily. Unfortunatly with great anticipation comes great expectation.
So what do I think of it? Ughhh! Writing something about this book is proving to be an agonizing process. It's such a vast, complex book, rich in themes and ideas and there is so much to talk about that I don't even know where to start. Fortunately it's receiving such wonderful reviews from professional opinion-makers I can drop in some handy links and strongly urge you to take a look at them.
Here Mazzucchelli employs the abstract to show strangers making a connection.
Here's a nice example of Mazzucchelli conveying an intellectual debate whilst enforcing one of the themes that developes between Asterios and his wife.
In any medium, the writer/artist/filmmakers job is to find ways of externalizing their characters motivations whilst telling a compelling enough story. At the same time we hope for some insight into life - not necessarily trying to answer life's eternal riddles (that way pretentiousness lays), but to at least address them. Oh and maybe some attempt to push the boundaries of the chosen medium. Asterios Polyp is all these things. It displays the considerable talent of a creator at the height of his powers. I found it to be a stunning piece of work.
Will Mazzucchelli produce another piece of work? Has he anything left to say, such is the depth of this graphic novel? I haven't used the term masterpiece before but I'm willing to make the exception here.