Sunday, March 04, 2007

Books I've read in 2007, part 10

I've talked about this book before. Everyone who enjoys the combination of words and pictures to tell a story talks about this book. Even though it says "A Graphic Novel" right there on the cover, it's actually a collection of short stories all set in the same tenement during the 1930's. I guess people called it a novel cuz Will Eisner does things here that no one had ever considered doing before in such a vulgar artform as comics, and nobody knew what to call it. Instead of musclemen in garish costumes beating each other up, talking ducks and mice, or teenagers chasing girls to get a kiss, Eisner dealt with real people trying to make their way in a harsh world.
And I do mean harsh, in these pages, a rabbi's beloved daughter dies, a wife-beating street singer misses his one chance to make it, there's rape, adultery, dog-poisoning, pedophilia, alcoholism and lies and despair. Quite a ways from Captain Marvel and the guys.
The reason this book is still read, besides its historical significance, is that Eisner doesn't offer any easy answers, the reader has to try and figure out whether God honors his contract with man or whether we're missing a loophole somewhere.
And also because nobody, but nobody, drew rain half as wet or half as well as Will Eisner.

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