This post originally appeared in slightly different form on November 13, 2005.
I've talked here before about Will Eisner, specifically his work on the classic comic strip The Spirit. (Of course, callingThe Spirit a comic strip really isn't accurate, but it's not exactly a comic book, either . . . but I'm getting sidetracked.)
TO THE HEART OF THE STORM really does deserve the name "graphic novel". Told in flashbacks as a young recruit, an artist named Willie, rides a troop train in the early days of World War II, it's the story of Eisner's own family and his childhood and adolescence growing up as an artistically talented youngster in Brooklyn and the Bronx. One of the themes is the anti-Semitism that Eisner and his family encountered, but that's hardly the whole story. This book is filled with touches that are universal to childhood: being picked on by bullies, having to care for a younger sibling, dealing with parents, etc. It's great stuff, wonderfully written and drawn, and ultimately quite moving. I highly recommend it.