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New York: Life In The Big City h/c

New York: Life In The Big City h/c back

Will Eisner


Page 45 Review by Stephen

NEW YORK, THE BUILDING, CITY PEOPLE NOTEBOOK and INVISIBLE PEOPLE all in one hardcover. A prime slab of American social history full of thwarted, worn-out or rejected individuals.

In Neil Gaiman's new introduction he recalls a criticism (someone else's, I hasten to add) of Eisner being too sentimental. It is to laugh. Opening a page at random, a spinster nurses her aged father through his final hours, and when he expires, she screams "Poppa!" before breaking under the realisation that her whole life has passed her by, trapped in the filial devotion she blames him for. Sentimental?!

Eisner conscientiously depicted human beings in all their frailty, folly and outright vice, and if he had a leaning towards the historical and the Jewish, well he was a comicbook veteran and a Jew, so what are you going to do, eh? No, as evidenced in particular by INVISIBLE PEOPLE which rocked me when it first appeared as three individual comics, Eisner instead gave a voice to those who had none, he showed the hearts of those who were stereotyped or dismissed, and he embraced whole communities with his commitment to documenting life as he'd witnessed it. There's no rose-tinting going on at all, just earnest craft.

And speaking of craft, the reproduction here is lovely, black ink replaced by sepia throughout, which works equally well with the washes or lined textures. We still have most of the component parts as individual softcovers, with fresh reprints on their way to replace the missing one.