#219 Asterios Polyp

Reviews of Asterios Polyp blanket the Internet; why need we pile on? Well, for starters, to counteract all the reviewers who think that giving a story synoposis = explaining what the book’s about. That approach falls far short with Polyp, so Tim and Kumar are here to explain what they feel David Mazzucchelli’s masterwork graphic novel is really about!

Stumptown annotations of Polyp

4 thoughts on “#219 Asterios Polyp”

  1. “What kind of emotional reaction is he trying to get…what point is he trying to make, by having it (the meteor) hit the house? How can this totally redeem himself through the course of the book and go back and have this totally nice heartwarming ending… and do this completely cynical thing at the end?”

    It’s a thing that’s not completely unknown in fiction (and non fiction). I’ve had similar feelings upon seeing Das Boot. The German U-Boat captain and the submarine crew go through hell on their mission, survive all kinds of attacks, including being stranded at the bottom of the ocean after a suicide run across a channel filled with enemy boats and they manage to get home to receive a victorious welcome… when an allied plane comes out of nowhere, bombs the dock, sinks the boat and the Captain dies as he looks upon the horror of his crew dying and his ship sinking.

    It’s so completely heartbreaking that it haunted me for years. Asterios Polyp has been haunting me in a very similar way after reading it. If you look closely at the double page spread of the meteor and the house, it’s pretty clear that the meteor is headed towards the house based on how the trees and house reflects the light from the meteor. If the meteor was somehow further from the viewer or nearer the viewer, the light in the trees would reflect it. I think it’s pretty inescapable that the meteor did hit the house and yeah, Asterios and Hannah are dead.

    But at least they’ve managed to set their issues aside and reunited before permanently moving on.

  2. Hello, Gerry,

    How great to discover that you are listening to the show! (Well, at least once anyway!) Hard to believe that time we met in San Diego was more than TEN years ago now!

    Shortly after we recorded this episode, it occurred to me that the Orpheus dream sequence being placed so late in the book stood in for the “lovers being seperated seemingly forever before being finally reunited.” It made sense to me that that was the utter darkness before they are reunited, and I just did not want to buy the meteor-death theory because it was too abruptly negative. But the more I think about it, the more I have to accept the possibility, maybe even the likelihood that they are blown to smithereens. Your points about the art are undeniable. I am still thinking about this book months later. What a tremendous accomplishment by Mazzucchelli even if the ending is totally wrong-headed (or totally fine if I choose to misinterpret it)!


  3. Huh? Kumar? As in Kumar Sivasubramanian? Holy shit! I still have our picture together from the Comicon! Yes, believe it or not, I stumbled on this podcast because I was looking for something to listen to online as I worked. Podcasts seem to keep me going. Having enjoyed Asterios tremendously, I started looking for podcasts on it and upon listening to yours, and how deeply you guys looked into it ( I learned many things!), I’ve decided you are now one of my favorite podcasts, and I’m going to be listening regularly from now on.

    You seem to have a lot of topics of great interest to me. I’m currently listening to the “Downloading Comics” episode. Since I’m also involved in publishing my own comics, I’m pretty much in the same boat as Jake. But I can understand both Jake’s and Mulele’s points.

    And also… Guam! Who makes podcasts about Guam cartoonists? Awesome! Filipinos, I bet.

    I’ll be hanging around and pestering you guys once in a while. I hope that’s all right.

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