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Showing posts from January, 2007

Will Eisner's To the Heart of the Storm

Like Blankets, To the Heart of the Storm is a memoir of youth, and very much worth reading. However, while Craig Thompson's art is moving, evocative, and highly poetic, Eisner's work in Storm is simply masterful in its heavy use of realism and selective reliance upon more subtle symbolism.

The novel opens with a brief explanation in prose of the general feeling of the draft, and the effect it had on those it brought in to the armed services in the very late '30s and early forties, before it drops us next to Willie, himself drafted into World War II. Riding a train to boot camp, Eisner stares out a window, framing his stories there. From this initial vantage, we are shown and then brought into his childhood in episodic fashion. We are given very atmospheric tellings of his parents' histories before Eisner goes on to tell us of himself: his fights, his first romantic experiences, early jobs, friendships, the racism he faced as a Jew, and the 'old world' politics …

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Absolutely awesome. It doesn't hit you at first. You flip through it, and, sure, it's got some nifty layouts, but the inking doesn't draw you in. No, it's the writing that does it. This is why it's nowhere near as pretentious as you might think for the book to be subtitled 'an illustrated novel by CRAIG THOMPSON'. But here's the thing, just as Will Eisner envisioned for the genre, Craig is able to make you read the art just as much as his writing. Blankets is replete with visual metaphor, literal flights of fancy, and real, honest feeling. Even the linework and lettering fit beautifully and (more suprisingly) explicitly into the way you read things. Brilliant.

Someday, maybe you'll walk into your local comic shop, or some big Barnes and Noble, whatever; you'll see Blankets chilling there, waiting for you to pick it up. The natural response will be to flip through and remark, disinterestedly, "Cool," before you walk on to something new.…