Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

Graphic novels have never come easy to me. When I pick up a book and start on the first page my eyes are trained to skim across the words in a simple left to right motion. Graphics change all of that and I am forced to slow down and investigate the pictures that are also playing part in telling the tale. In Asterios Polyp I didn't feel the jarring I sometimes do when I adjust to the graphic format. In fact I plunged right into the stream of imagy goodness until I reluctantly had to re-emerge with the turning of the final page.

Asterios Polyp is the name of the intriguing main character, a man caught between the promise of his past life and the strange new world of his current reality. When we first meet Asterios he escapes an apartment fire that consumes the things from his material past. He takes a bus as far as his money will get him and finds work as an auto mechanic.

The story shifts back and forth between his new life as a hired hand and his previous existence as a tenured professor and member of the academic intelligentsia. As the story unfolds Asterios falls in love and this relationship is the glue that binds the two storylines together.

Mazzucchelli's artwork is simple and expressive. The past is rendered in shades of blue and red, the present in hues of yellow and purple. Not until the end of the story when the two timelines intersect do more colors of the spectrum find their way into the story.

Asterios Polyp is a good first book for anyone who finds graphic novels a bit daunting. The story is well told and the images are simple and uncluttered making the movement of the eye upon the page pleasant indeed.

Give it a try and find Asterios Polyp in the VBPL catalog.

Another good graphic novel for beginner's with gorgeous images and a compelling story is Shaun Tan's immigration tale The Arrival.

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