It’s a couple of days past Christmas now but over at Sound on Sight, I wrote a little bit about Will Eisner’s “The Christmas Spirit of 1948,” saying:
Will Eisner truly was one of comic books greatest storytellers. No one before or since has been able to use a comic page to tell a story like he did in just seven pages. In “The Christmas Spirit 1948” (originally published in the weekly Spirit serial on December 19th, 1948) he told a rather simple tale of a man who discovers the holiday spirit (no pun intended) and uses his underworld connections to get the blind boy a surgery to restore his sight. It’s a small, quick story but Eisner fills it with a lot of heart as he exaggerates every characters’ emotions, including Basher. A big mountain of the man at the beginning, he’s so big that the panels can barely contain him as he rips the P.A. speaker off the wall. Basher is obviously not a kind, jolly man and even when he puts Santa’s outfit on, Eisner draws him as as just another con in a slightly different outfit.
You can read the whole article here.
Of all of Eisner’s innovative storytelling methods, I love the layouts of these pages the best. Eisner develops these compartments of storytelling that really define both the macro and micro world that this set of characters live in. You could even go farther to say that the long, vertical black panel also represents the boy’s blindness, where his perceptions of the world are that dark and without detail. It’s just more examples of brilliant storytelling that Eisner pioneered that so many artists today seem hesitant to even attempt anymore.