Fagin the Jew
A Graphic Novel
By Will Eisner
(Doubleday, Paperback, 9780385510097, 128pp.)
Publication Date: September 16, 2003
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From his early newspaper comics to the sophisticated graphic novels he produces today, Will Eisner has been a pioneering force in comics for more than sixty years. Ron Goulart, writing in Book World, declared, “A shrewd, thoughtful man, Eisner has always had a knack for deftly combining dialogue and images to tell his story,” and fellow graphic novelist Alan Moore simply said, “Eisner is the single person most responsible for giving comics its BRAINS.” And Amazon.com, which called him "the Elvis of comics," said, "It's fair to say that Eisner invented modern comic art."
In FAGIN THE JEW, Eisner proves himself to be not only a master of comic storytelling, but also an incisive literary and social critic. This project was first conceived as an introduction to a pictorial adaptation of Oliver Twist, but as he learned more about the history of Dickens-era Jewish life in London, Eisner uncovered intriguing material that led him to create this new work. In the course of his research, Eisner came to believe that Dickens had not intended to defame Jews in his famous depiction. By referring to Fagin as “the Jew” throughout the book, however, he had perpetuated the common prejudice; his fictional creation imbedded itself in the public’s imagination as the classic profile of a Jew. In his award-winning style, Eisner recasts the notorious villain as a complex and troubled antihero and gives him the opportunity to tell his tale in his own words. Depicting Fagin’s choices and actions within a historical context, Eisner captures the details of life in London’s Ashkenazi community and brilliantly re-creates the social milieu of Dickensian England.
Eisner's fresh, compelling look at prejudice, poverty, and anti-Semitism lends an extraordinary richness to his artwork, ever evocative and complex. Like the modern classics Maus and The Jew of New York, FAGIN THE JEW blends image and prose in an unforgettable exploration of history.
WILL EISNER is the author of many acclaimed graphic novels, including Last Day in Vietnam and Dropsie Avenue, and is the author of two definitive works on the creative process, Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling. He has taught cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and every year presides over the Eisner Awards presented at Comic-Con International in San Diego. He lives in Tamarac, Florida.