Merve Emre and Christian Nakarado at The Point:
At the crossroads of architecture and the comic is Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp, the love story of architecture professor Asterios Polyp—an unwieldy, snobbish, weak-chinned scrap of a man—and his lovely wife Hana. Asterios is one of the paper architects of the 1980s and 1990s avant-garde, a tight-knit coterie of poststructuralist designers who took their cues directly from French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s understanding of architecture as a form of writing. Like Derrida’s one-time collaborator Peter Eisenman, Asterios’s reputation rests on “his designs, rather than on the buildings constructed from them.” Nothing he has designed has ever been built. Rather, his career is an accumulation of riddles, abstractions and analogues, systems and sequences “governed by their own internal logic.” They take little by way of inspiration from the material world and give next to nothing back. Asterios Polyp, we could conclude, is the story of a man who could have authored a savvier version of Yes Is More.
Mazzucchelli draws Asterios as an extension of his intellectual sensibilities, a not-so-subtle takedown of architectural theory that’s delightful to behold in comic form. At his most pedantic moments—lecturing a class on Apollonian versus Dionysian design, or boasting about his sexual prowess at a faculty meeting—Asterios’s body morphs into an artist’s mannequin, a cool blue assemblage of hollow geometries that bear no relationship to the world around him.