- "What if reality (as perceived) were simply an extension of the self? Wouldn't this color the way each individual experiences the world? As one who doesn't exist, I'm entitled to ask these questions."
A comic that defies simple explanation. Asterios Polyp combines philosophy, psychology, and design theory into an expertly crafted story. Critically praised as David Mazzuchelli's magnum opus, Asterios Polyp is an ambitious work of Meta Fiction a decade in the making.
The story is about a man named Asterios Polyp. He is pompous, egocentric, and condescending yet manages to be intensely likable. Asterois is a renowned architect, despite the fact that none of his designs have ever been built. As he turns half a century Asterios's apartment is struck by lightning and burned to the ground. He decides to go on a fateful journey in which he abandons every thing and becomes a auto mechanic in the small town of Apogee. Through out this the book flashes back to various points of his now defunct marriage with Hana. And also fantasy scenes with his dead twin Ignazio, and a few scenes narrated by him also.
The artistic aspect of the book is one of its most unique aspects. The style and artwork are not only used to tell the story but are facet of the story itself. Each of the characters dialogue is written in it own way. And the book will regularly switch art styles to convey its messages.
This work cannot be completely understood in one reading, or for that matter in twenty.
This comic provides examples of:
- Anachronic Order: The flashbacks to Asterios's marriage are non-chronological.
- An Aesop: Multiple and Frequent
- Beta Couple: Stiff and Ursula.
- Break the Haughty
- Chekhov's Armoury: So many you'll need to reread it to get them all.
- Death by Childbirth: Asterios twin brother Ignazio. And just for added discomfort he is also the narrator.
- Eye Scream
- Fatal Flaw: Aside from his arrogance, Asterios is obsessed with duology - to the point he literally cannot think of things outside of patterns of two. He even keeps a security camera running in his house 24/7, so that he and Hana will always have "doubles" copying their every move in a TV screen.
- Insistent Terminology: Our protagonist can be a bit of a jerk about this.
- It Was a Gift:
- It's All About Me: Asterios just barely avoids falling into this all the time.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: One scene where Asterios is seen screwing one of his students. And also Hana had this happen to her a few times.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Malaproper: Asterios's boss Stiff.
- Meaningful Name: The names of the twins may refer to the story's first and last scenes — "Ignazio" means "fiery" in Italian, while the Greek name "Asterios" is pretty close to "asteroeidís" (asteroid). Another interpretation is that the names aren't individually meaningful, but predict the ending when combined (ignazio aster(ios) = "fiery star").
- Memento MacGuffin: Asterios's pocket knife and father's lighter.
- Mind Screw: The fantasy scenes when Ignazio and Asterios talk seem deliberately put there to screw with the reader.
- Mixed Metaphor: Asterios points it out when Hana uses the phrase "drowned out by someone barrelling over him."
- Nobody Poops: Deliberately averted in one memorable sequence, where Asterios reflects on his past intimate moments with Hana. Instead of just remembering all of their romantic moments, though, his memories include her cleaning her ears out with cue-tips, vomiting, flossing her teeth and (yes) sitting on the toilet. It's a meditation on how, when you make the decision to share your life with someone else, you share everything — including the seamy stuff.
- Odd Couple: Frequently.
- Posthumous Character: Despite having never lived to begin with, Ignazio narrates the story and frequently messes with Asterios in his dreams.
- Separated at Birth: His dead twin Ignazio. Not that it stops them from meeting or anything.
- Shout-Out: Frequently does with the Odyssey.
- Shrinking Violet: Hana, in many ways.