Episode 092: Scott McCloud
The phrase “those who can’t, teach” runs through my head pretty consistently when I sit down in front of a blank page in an attempt to flex some creative muscles. It’s the curse of the critic, the curator, the teacher — anyone on the outside looking in who assumes their work, perhaps rightfully, will be subject to that added level of critique when they finally unleash it on the world. That, no doubt, is a large part of why it took Scott McCloud so damned long to bare himself in such a way. The artist has, quite literally, written the book on making comics — three of them, in fact. For decades, his work has been largely regarded as the gold standard for making and interpreting sequential art, a watershed moment in the academic approach to the form. Like so many on that side of the creative process, however, McCloud’s bibliography has long lacked a major, self-contained narrative work. In the 80s, the artist produced Zot, a manga-influenced light-hearted take on superhero books, but until The Sculptor, McCloud has never given himself a long-form opportunity to put into practice the rules he’d first committed to paper in the early 90s. A half-decade in the making, the new book shockingly lives up to the hype. It’s a masterfully constructed and pitch-perfectly paced take on the Faustian archetype with creative roots that reach back well beyond the publication of McCloud’s earliest work. I sat down with McCloud in a colorful room at First Second’s Flat Iron Building offices ahead of his speaking engagement at the 92nd st. Y to discuss The Sculptor, thinking critically about comics and the frustrating notion of the effortless artist.