Comics Scholar Scott McCloud Hits the Big Screen With The Sculptor Adaptation

By  · Published on February 18th, 2015

First Second

“I never cared much if my comics were made into movies in the past. Someday it might happen and I’ll buy something big, and go straight back to the drawing board, but I never viewed movies as a ‘step up’ like some.” ‐ Scott McCloud, 2010.

McCloud, who is best known for comics about comics (like “Understanding Comics”) hasn’t had a ton of material that would even be adapted into a movie, but the quote above is appropriate today as the comic book creator and theorist is finally seeing one of his works optioned for the big screen. His series “Zot!” has never made the transition, he’s said, because he’s picky. The one-shot “Destroy!!” is becoming all the more obsolete, even if it were to still count as satire, while superhero movies become more and more just a showcase for big battles and mass destruction. It’s his brand new graphic novel, “The Sculptor,” that is getting the movie treatment, according to The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of producers Scott Rudin (The Addams Family) and Josh Bratman (Priest).

The protagonist of the story is a literal sculptor named David, who makes a deal with Death when he’s down on his luck. He’s given powers to manipulate all kinds of materials in order to be a great artist again, but the catch is that he’s given only 200 days to live and enjoy the gift. Of course, he falls in love, which makes his expiration date a more tragic issue. Speaking of that romantic interest, many have likened the character, Meg, to the manic pixie dream girl trope from movies. And she’s sure to be seen as one even more when actually portrayed in a movie.

Without much else of note regarding the news of The Sculptor for the time being, I’ll leave you with a comment from McCloud on the MPDG matter from a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly:

I was concerned about that, because this story has been around in my head for a long time and it was in the works for five years ‐ Nathan Rabin’s article came along where he coined that term while I was still working on it. We were aware of the trope but I was not gonna run screaming from it because for one thing, my wife actually really loved some of the characters that he was coloring in that article [laughs]. She really enjoyed some of those movies.

And more importantly, I wasn’t just going to completely exterminate any traces of that free spirited character because I married her. I married that woman. You know, he was treating her as some fictional construct but to some extent, some of the qualities that he was writing about were the qualities that I fell in love with and both my wife Ivy and I had some affection for some of the more positive aspects of that character.

But I think that Nathan was right to identify some of the sexist leanings of the way that character was used sometimes. You put your finger on it, but in part, it’s the notion of only living for the male protagonist. But the idea of somebody who embraces a vision of adulthood that doesn’t have to abandon everything good in childhood, which I think is one of the things that appeals to people about some of the characters like that. And someone who wants, who gains fulfillment partially by helping others, not just necessarily the protagonist but many others, like in the case of Amèlie.

I think that that’s an important character that we would to better to try to understand than to simply destroy every time any character displays three out of the ten list of traits, you know? I think in literature it’s important not to kill what we don’t understand. Ivy memorably ‐ we were talking about the article and she said, “they’re telling me I don’t exist.”

I think that is a really interesting way to look at it. I knew I was on a rendezvous with that particular problem [laughs]. I did take steps to make sure that I steered clear of some of the more toxic aspects of that fictional trope.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.