Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Eisner for Everyone

Yesterday I read Will Eisner's New York. If there's one thing any reader can take from that book it is the understanding of why so many people gravitate towards big cities. It is the greatest and most dramatic stage for the theatre of humanity. This book is Eisner's record of all the different parts of his city. And it really is his city in many ways. Having spent the majority of his life there the stories in this collection, even the harsh and sad ones, are all presented with both a touch of pride and love. These stories feel like a man in awe and appreciation of his city in the same way a child feels about a parent.

The stories here are, in many ways, a catalogue of all the different sets and players involved in the life theatre of the city. The drama of the buildings, the windows and subway grates are all repeated motifs and backdrops. The denizens of this city are all warm yet somewhat deceitful although in a charming and almost honest manner, ironically. People drop off dates in expensive cars that turn out to be rented then we see the date leave the expensive apartment building for the subway ride home. We see countless people fall through the cracks but still with enough life force to continue to survive and a setting that allows them to exist.

As per most of the Eisner material I've read the characters seem to exist outside of time. I feel like Eisner's element was the forties and a lot of the characters seem dressed to fit that era. Not all, mind you, and there's nothing wrong with it in the least. I feel it gives the stories a more timeless quality. They could be from any time since then and to know that a lot of these stories come from the end of Eisner's career and life is simply amazing. That someone advanced in age was creating some of the most lively, energetic, beautiful and simply youthful comic books is a testament in itself to the quality of Eisner's love for the medium and his city.

If you're looking for a holiday gift for the comic lover, budding artist, art collector or person who likes neat gifts, then I highly suggest you pick this up as it will not disappoint.

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