Friday, June 14, 2013

Forgotten Books: To the Heart of the Storm - Will Eisner

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.


Todd Mason said...

THE SPIRIT was the best comic book ever published as a newspaper supplement, pretty about that?

I still need to read these 1970s long-form works by Eisner...

Hank Brown said...

I grew up with "The Great Comic Book Heroes" by Jules Feiffer. After reading the included comic reprints several times, I started reading Feiffer's intro. Wound up re-reading that many times over the years, and its still a treasured part of my library.

Anyhow, because of Feiffer's comments about the Spirit, and the gritty reprint included (The Spirit Goes to Damascus), I tracked down some stand-alone Spirit reprints as an adult. I wasn't ready for the highly polished artwork nor the lighthearted writing. I need to read some more Eisner to get a better idea what he was really like (because I think I got a false impression from reading ABOUT his work).

Thanks, James. BTW, can you post links to your previous blogs about Eisner?

James Reasoner said...

Hank, there's really only one that amounts to anything, and it's here:

There's also another mention when Eisner passed away, but it doesn't really add anything to what I said in the other post.