Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Life Force by Will Eisner

A couple years ago I attended a work luncheon about graphic novels and picked up a free copy of this book (best table centerpiece giveaway ever). I had gone on a bit of a Will Eisner kick awhile back while working at the Austin Public Library, reading A Contract with God, Dropsie Avenue, and Comics and Sequential Art in quick succession, but this one was new to me.

Of course, I didn't actually get around to reading it until a few weeks ago.

A Life Force tells the story of an out of work carpenter living in the Bronx and his rise to success, set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the rise of Nazi Germany and the mafia.

Besides being one of, if not the, first comics artists to use the medium to tell more literary stories, one of the things that really set Eisner apart from his contemporaries was his style of layouts--he didn't stick to the typical grid, freeing himself to experiment, using the layout to aid in his storytelling. (Comics and Sequential Art delves a bit into these techniques.)

He is often called out for his portrayal of women (usually as hideous/shrill/social climbers/etc), and in the case of his Spirit comics, black people (the typical stereotypes of the era). It's certainly not excusable, and to be honest, his comics aren't even my favorites as far as the stories are concerned. But regardless of his flaws, Eisner was ahead of his time in many ways, which deserves to be acknowledged. Blah blah blah.

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