When I think of Will Eisner, the legendary comics writer/artist who passed away on Monday, January 3, 2005, what’s prominent in my mind is the rain.
Eisner knew how to draw rain.
Sheets of rain, torrents of rain, grey masses of rain, pummeling down.
And there was always someone out in the street to feel that rain. Some lost or doomed soul, or jilted lover, or bankrupt fool, or wandering loner. It never came down for the sake of coming down. Eisner’s rain came down as if to drown its victims in greater despair.
The rain weighed heavily on already troubled or oppressed shoulders. It forced the disillusioned soul to look down only at drenched, slippery grey streets, to stomp on widening puddles, shattering clouded reflections.
The rain didn’t wash anything away. It wasn’t out to cleanse. It was a hard, wet, cold reminder of the dark days in one’s life.
When I read of Eisner’s death, the rain was coming down outside where I work, relentless and chilled. I watched a man pass by on the sidewalk, his long coat drawn close. His hat was pulled over his forehead. The man was looking down, in no hurry at all, resigned to Mother Nature pummeling him. It felt, to me, as if an Eisner panel had come to life, somehow appropriate.
Blended with his art, endowed in my perceptions, there is nothing quite like Eisner’s rain.