Strange Brouhaha

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Eisner's Last Work

Will Eisner died earlier this year, leaving a void in the comics world that couldn't be filled by a dozen men. Just as he was a pioneering artist, writer, and designer, he was also a pioneering thinker in the field, his Comics and Sequential Art being one of the first--if not the first--truly scholarly studies of the medium.

I don't know if Eisner was religious or not. It's certain, though, that he felt his Jewish heritage very keenly; most of his best works deal with stories of New York tenements and Jewish immigrants, and the anti-Semitism that he must certainly have experienced himself.

I just read Eisner's final work, The Plot, which he finished shortly before he died. It's a step-by-step debunking of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the book which has been behind pretty much all anti-Semitic violence throughout the 20th Century and into this one.

Of course, The Protocols have been debunked before, but never in this form. Eisner believed in the power of comics not only to entertain, but to educate, and his simple, powerful style communicates the history behind the lies very clearly. Yes, it bogs down in pages of (very neat!) lettering at times, but the message is there, loud and clear. This is probably the most important book Eisner has done. (Shoot, it's worth looking at for Umberto Eco's introduction, too.) Besides, as long as hate groups continue to propagate the lies--and they do--it's vital the we stand up for the truth.


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