Tuesday 7 February 2017

Panel No.35: Eisner Award-Winning Orbital Comics

Daily Constitutional editor Adam Scott-Goulding continues his Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London

You can catch up with the previous "stops" at the Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London blog here cartoonandcomicbooklondon.blogspot.co.uk.

Panel No. 35. Eisner Award-Winning Orbital Comics

I'm making a second visit to Orbital Comics on my Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London blog in the wake of some very good news from earlier this year.

Orbital Comics is the 2016 winner of the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Award for best comic book store! Orbital was chosen from a list of nominees from across the globe.

Congratulations to all the guys in Great Newport Street! You can see the award in the store.

In my original post - Panel No.6 – I looked a little bit into the history of Great Newport Street itself. You can catch up with that post here.

The Eisner Award is the Oscar of the comic book publishing world and as such is a seriously big deal.

It is named for Will Eisner (1917 - 2005) writer and cartoonist who is widely credited with coining and popularising the phrase Graphic Novel. His 1985 book Comics & Sequential Art hanseled the modern era of comics as vehicles capable of carrying complex and sophisticated stories worthy of critical analysis.

If that all sounds a bit high falutin, here's Allan Moore to cut through the BS:  

"Eisner is the single person most responsible for giving comics its brains."

Stan Lee put it pretty well, too: 

"Will Eisner was to comics what Babe Ruth was to baseball."

(The work of Moore & Lee featured earlier in this Comic Book London Tour – see HEREHERE for Moore and HERE for Stan Lee.)

Given that this is a Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London, I'll point you not only in the direction of Orbital, but of Eisner's most famous London-themed work: Fagin The Jew.

Eisner's 2003 work takes the form of an interview conducted by Dickens with Fagin (of Oliver Twist infamy) on the night before the latter is hanged.

The narrative is a bold confrontation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in literature and, as such, is powerful indeed. Eisner's approach reminds me of that of a method actor getting into a role: where does the character come from? How did he get to be this way? 

As Fagin's journey is unfolded, we learn of the plight of the Ashkenazi Jews in London, the hardships and prejudices they endured. These, Eisner suggests, are the factors that shaped Fagin's character. The Fagin that emerges by the book's end is a far more complex individual than the villain in Dickens's original.

In encouraging us to walk a mile in another man's shoes, Eisner ends up penning a Graphic Novel not only for Fagin, nor only for the Jewish immigrant experience, but for every Londoner. If you are a Londoner who has ever been proud of the slogan #LondonIsOpen Eisner's Fagin the Jew is a must read.

Fagin the Jew is published by Dark Horse.

You can find Orbital Comics on Great Newport Street here…

In a post planned for 2017 I'll return to the work of Dickens through the illustrations of Cruikshank and the many artists who have brought the great writer's characters alive on the page

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