Asterios Polyp is a graphic novel for grownups. It is about a 50-year-old narcissistic professor of architecture who’s never built a building, and the lessons he eventually learns about life. The art is very well done, tracing the themes and characters through shape and color and layout and style and lettering. I recommend it for the way it tells the story in pictures.
But, like some musically-elaborate opera or visually-rich film, the story itself perhaps doesn’t carry the art as a whole. Without spoiling the story too much, one of the book’s main themes is the main character’s relationship with the love of his life, who is a brilliant artist, but as humble and shy as her partner is vain and bombastic. His character develops. Hers doesn’t.
My tolerance for sweet humble female characters has always been low and hasn’t increased over the years. I like that she’s plausibly clever, but also want to conjure FEMINISTHULK. I wonder how much of my opinion is my limitations vs. the book’s. I lose patience with narcissism, anomie, and the bildungsroman of a 50-year-old.