The Name of the Game

    (DC, 2001)
™ and ©2001 Will Eisner

The lyrics of an old song are, “Love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.” In the 21st century such an analogy may seem quaint and dated but in “The Name of the Game,” Will Eisner reveals that marriage has long been as much about social status and business as love.

This moving graphic novel concerns the history of the Arnheim family from the early 1800s when Moses Arnheim emigrated to the United States up to after World War II, four generations later. The majority of the novel concerns Conrad Arnheim, a man used to getting what he wants and avoiding his responsibilities or any of the consequences of his actions. His father arranged his first marriage to Lilly Ober, whose father was a banker and able to lend money to the Arnheim Corset Company. When Lilly died in childbirth, her parents took the baby, Helen, since Conrad had no real emotional investment in her. Later Conrad’s second wife Eva, informed him that she didn’t want children so Conrad reclaimed Helen, strictly for appearances. Such a callous attitude may seem unfeeling but the image of the Arnheim line takes priority over such trivial matters as love.

Will Eisner’s expressive linework combined with his succinct dialogue reveals a world of subtext and subtlety that consistently entertains and enlightens.

— George Haberberger

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