Last Day in Vietnam: A Memory by Will Eisner
How is the work illustrated?
The graphics are cartoonish but detailed drawings. The book has a “Beetle Bailey” look and tone to it. The colors and even the paper it is printed on are sepia-tone. Backgrounds are coarsely textured in most frames and the paper is almost as thick as low-grade construction paper. Interspersed between each story is an actual photo taken in Vietnam to remind the reader that this is not just a fictional work.
Why was this story written as a graphic novel?
Will Eisner is a well-known cartoonist. This is a short collection of stories of his experiences and stories told to him during the Vietnam War. The graphics, although drawn comic paper style, put the reader into Vietnam with the writer. Along with being similar to “Beetle Bailey”, the stories and art have a “M.A.S.H.” tone also. You can see and feel the camaraderie among the troops and see both the tough soldier and the softer, more human side of the same person.
Who narrates the story?
Each story has a different narrator. The first narrator is a guide (probably for Will Eisner) who is scheduled to leave Vietnam that day. The second narrator is a young Vietnamese boy watching soldiers drinking on the terrace of a local hotel. The other stories are third person narratives written to show a side of the main character that they themselves could or would not show the world.
Describe one scene in the novel.
On page 42 the top frame shows a war correspondent with his head lying on a table on the terrace, The narrator tells the reader that the correspondent has just come from the field where he had found and identified the body of his son blown to bits. The unrealistic graphics are incongruously juxtaposed with the harsh reality of what really happens in a war.