The publisher Delcourt had the bright idea to combine the three masterpieces of one of the inventors of American comics, Will Eisner (1917-2005), presenting in a coherent sequence the New York saga published between 1986 and 1989, and not having a wrinkle: the City, the Building, the People. Like Howard Zinn writing a popular history of the United States, or like Arlette Farge building the life of the building in the eighteenth century, Will Eisner raises the comics to an art for all, rarely achieved, with a strength of social observation and a stripping anthropological look that make his work a true anthology of contemporary America.
A poetry of the urban space
A master of sober as well as evocative drawing, inventor of the concept of a "graphic novel", Eisner recounts, in short snippets and sequences, the ordinary life of ordinary people, suddenly restored to their simple but genuine dignity. Here, no superhero or heroine body bodybuilder or hyperérotisé. No. Simple people cross the pages, go to work, go home, hurry against each other in the subway, talk or love each other, or both at once. With a rigor in the design which allows inventiveness to overflow, the verticality of the buildings is built with the perpendicular of the sidewalk, united by the oblique perron of the New York dwellings, with their steps, where the sociability is built, there where humanity is growing. Will Eisner begins with a punch to describe the fabulous New York, by the invention of the poetry of the sewers, garbage, rubbish, refuse … it is also that, the city, and the thousand stories of love , rage, toil, survival thrown into the garbage cans, writing a unique poetry of the urban space and its garbage collectors.
Buttons that have fallen to the ground, lost keys and forgotten pieces are the backdrop for the ordinary and moving stories of New Yorkers, the universal story of tens of millions of anonymous people living in the big cities. The whole delivers an obvious political lesson to ponder. The city is hall, sometimes dangerous, often poor, but it's their city. They like it. She is part of them, and Eisner never forgets to represent with all the invisible street children who constantly re-enact the street, simply because it is their playground.
No misery from Eisner. The culture at ground level is built there, with "this last Man", little White with his overcoated overcoat, tired of work that has just missed the subway, with this "last woman" African American housewife, mother courage that raises his children, with this man and this woman approached in the morning by the press, in the subway, and who, during a station, dream of a shared life, to leave each other and never to meet again at the next station. With a sensitivity that the black and white of the drawing exalts, the noises of the city are also omnipresent, music of the street artists, painful noises of the neighbors from below, sighs of the room next door, anger of the kitchen opposite, in this panoptic vision of the city.
And then those lights … night lights, bedside lights, bleaching subway bulbs, stairwell lights. A symphony for simple people. An immense political gesture for the New York people. America that we love and that really exists.