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Last Day in Vietnam: a Memory
By Philip Schweier

July 13, 2007 - 17:23

Publisher(s): Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Will Eisner
Penciller(s): Will Eisner
Cover Artist(s): Will Eisner

Fans of Eisner’s tales of growing up in the Jewish neighborhoods of New York may find this book a radical departure, but few will be disappointed by it. While the title may suggest the scenarios presented here are from the Vietnam era, the book is a series of scenarios culled from Eisner’s experiences working with the military in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. As such, the stories reinforce the universal nature of war and its effects on people – the horror, misery and fear that are all too common.

As with previous books, Eisner tells a series of tales united by a common theme, yet individual in his storytelling technique. A number of them use one-sided dialogue and having the characters speak directly to the reader as Eisner. Their dialogue rings true, suggesting accents from Appalachia to Albequerque. One story, “The Casualty,” uses no dialogue at all to convey feelings of loneliness, vulnerability and eventually stupidity.

Perhaps his illustrations might be regarded as too “cartoony” for such a serious subject matter, but no less so than a fully-animated Disney feature breathes life and vigor into its two-dimensional “actors.” Whatever Eisner’s visual approach, it does not take away from his masterful ability to capture expression, body language and setting with an economy of line.

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