Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)

One of the best graphic novels of the year

Since its release in August, David Mazzucchelli's original graphic novel Asterios Polyp has been praised by critics as a masterpiece, and deservedly so. I have no doubt this book will be at or near the top of every comic reviewer's Best of 2009 list. The book tells the story of a middle-aged, pretentious, semi-successful architect and professor. Middle-aged protagonists are rare in the world of indie comics, with authors typically preferring to explore their own traumatizing high school experiences, or the struggle and poverty of the 20-something. Asterios Polyp is not only unique in its subject matter, it is also brilliant in the way the story is told. I was especially impressed with how well-developed even the most minor characters are. Adding to this is Mazzucchelli's beautiful art and the fact that Pantheon did a fantastic job designing the book. Every now and again a non-superhero comic gains enough accolades and hype to interest the masses who don't spend half their lives and income in comic shops. Like Ghost World, Blankets or Maus, I think Asterios Polyp is going to be sought after by casual comic readers for years to come.

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