Fagin: Will Eisner's retelling of Oliver Twist

Will Eisner's 2003 graphic novel "Fagin the Jew" is a masterpiece of literary criticism in comic form. It is a retelling of the story of Oliver Twist's Fagin that explores the anti-Semitism that ran rampant through Dickens's England. Eisner's great gift was in the expressiveness of his cartoons, which are one part MAD Magazine, one part Pieta, capturing emotional nuance running from the hilarious to the tragic. Eisner's introduction and postscript are the perfect frames for this remix story: in the intro, he talks about his naive use of black stereotypes in his 1950s comic The Spirit, while the postscript is an accessible but learned discussion of the stereotyping that Dickens fell prey to. This is the perfect companion to Oliver Twist — or any other historical work where race plays a vital role, from the Merchant of Venice to Huckleberry Finn.