Jan 17, 2011

Asterios Polyp Annotations, Part 2

This is part 2 of ASTERIOS POLYP annotations. Naturally, spoilers follow. Click here for part 1.


Page 2, Panel 1: This is a throwback to Chapter 2, Page 3.

Panel 2: It's fitting that Asterios' frequent nickname is "'Sterio." (Stereo.)

Panel 3: Peachy pointed out to me that just as Asterios looks leonine, so too does Hana look like a kitten.

Page 3: As "Hana" means "flower," "Sonnenschein" means "sunshine." Flowers, of course, need sunshine to thrive, and as we learn, Hana has avoided the spotlight - or sunshine - pretty much her whole life (even marrying someone who was guaranteed to take it away from her).

"Mutsuko" literally means "intimate child." I can't say I see the significance.

Page 8: This is just a truly beautiful sequence. As Asterios' identity gives Hana form and distinction, Hana gives Asterios substance. They fall in love, right at this moment. And then it never happens again.


Page 1, Panel 3: "Do you think Francis of Assisi ever swatted a mosquito?" Every little thing reminds Asterios of Hana.

Page 7, Panel 1: Is Hornbeek's the only eatery in town? Manana literally means "at some point in the future," or "later." Again, I can't see the significance.

Panel 3: "Spotty Drizzle" is a redundant term, wouldn't you agree?

Page 9: Steven looks an awful lot like a Dan Clowes character.


Page 3, Panel 5: "It's just a matter of paying attention." Just one of many panels that will be referred to a couple of more times throughout the rest of the book.

Page 4, Panel 4: It's interesting to see the latitude that Mazzucchelli gets from the various lettering styles. With uniform lettering, the first balloon would easily be (wrongly) attributed to Asterios. The various lettering styles lets Mazzucchelli compose the pictures in a way that is pleasing to him without worrying about the lettering being confusing.

Panel 6: A throwback to Asterios' earlier question to Stiffly.

Page 5, Panel 1: Asterios looks like a lion, Hana looks like a kitten, and they have a pet cat. Probably named after Isamu Noguchi, who was a Japanese-American artist and architect (combining both Hana's and Asterios' professions).

Page 6, Panel 5: More video cameras. More of Ignazio's "life"?

Page 8: The very significant Swiss army knife makes its chronological debut.

Page 10: This is the same angle as Page 3, Panel 2 and Page 11, Panel 1.


Page 1, Panel 5: "I'm not used to using my right hand." Not only is Asterios left-handed, but he's so dependent on it, as if the other side of him is completely cut off. Interestingly, for a left-handed person, he seems pretty left-brained.

Page 2: Again, there's an airplane in an Ignazio dream sequence.

Page 3: Stiffly is singing "Rock You Like a Hurricane," by the Scorpions.

Page 4: "Ursula Major" is wordplay on "Ursa Major," the constellation for the "Great Bear." (Also, a famous Ursula is the rather heavy-set villainness in Disney's The Little Mermaid.) The Ursa Major contains the asterism (HAH!) that includes the Big Dipper or the North Star, which is how sailors used to find their way. I wonder if Mazzucchelli ever laughs at his own cleverness.

Page 5, Panel 5: "A Cancer, but almost a Gemini." Polyps can be cancerous growths, and Asterios was almost a twin.

Page 8, Panel 1: The face on Gerry's T-shirt is Che Guevara's, legendary Cuban revolutionary. (He's got a comic biography here.)

Page 9, Panel 3: "On a blank sheet can be written the most beautiful characters" is a paraphrasing of a Mao Tse Tung quote, to whom Gerry is referring. I'm not exactly sure if he's aware of it. I think it's worth noting that the Asterios that was married to Hana would have schooled Gerry in exactly how much he doesn't know.

Panel 7: The "nickname" of Jackson's is "Running Dog," which Ursula would automatically assume is Native American. But it's really a Chinese/Korean direct translation of "lackey."

Page 10, Panel 2: "Fourth wheel." Stiffly screws up a saying.

Page 12, Panel 3: Don't ask me to explain the significance of the particular arrangement, because I have no idea. If anyone knows though, then do tell.


Cover: This is the same as the tomb of the first Chinese emperor that Hana will talk about in this chapter.

Page 1: Oh boy! Am I gonna have a field day with this one. Okay, up above, we've got four of the five platonic solids, while the fifth (the cube) contains the sequence of Asterios talking to his teacher. "Things are always in the wrong place." would echo what's directly underneath it. "The real and the ideal" models echo the thought of the five platonic solids (this is how things should look like in a perfect world), and would also go against what Hana was saying earlier in the book about nature always getting things right. There's the contrast between an Apollonian design (cold and calculated) and a Dionysian design (more in tune with abstractions). Among the patterns on the "floor" is the Yin/Yang symbol.

The sequence of numbers "1,1,2,3,5,8,13," is the Fibonacci series. Each number is the sum of the two numbers before it. It is notable because as the numbers keep getting bigger, the ratio between any number and the number prior goes to φ (pronounced "phi"), approximately 1.618, also known as the Golden Ratio. The ratio shows up in many things, such as the human body and a regular pentagram. It also shows up in these squares, where one the width and length the sides all fall into the Golden Ratio.

In this configuration, we can draw the Golden Spiral, which starts from one corner, hits four more corners, and actually does show up in nature, in shells and in spiral arms of galaxies. This is also in this page.

The table on the left is the periodic table of elements.

Page 4, Panels 1–2: It's interesting to note that Asterios' definitions of factual and fictional art are counterintuitive.

Page 9:  "As long as one doesn't mistake the system for reality." Asterios obviously has. Note that his shadow and the spheres are 2-dimensional, and he's ignoring everything on the page that has more than 2-dimensions.

Page 10: "Some might argue that such simplification is best suited to... comic books." Some of the best comics have a tendency to reference the medium a lot.

Page 12: Asterios and Hana fall back into their "perceived forms," but unlike when they met, they never "merge" again.

Page 16, Panel 4:  Yin/Yang strikes again.


Amber Light said...

Great, now I want to read the whole thing. :p I checked other reviews too.

They probably have Asterios Polyp at a National, or a Fully Booked, right?

Duy said...

I got mine at Fully Booked (or rather, my girlfriend bought it for me at Fully Booked).

I would HOPE they still have it...

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