Way back in Tsarist Russia, a propagandist, wishing to divert the monarch from a liberal path, concocted a forged document which purported to show a Jewish Plot to take over the world. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was in actual fact a slightly rewritten plagiarism of a French work of fiction which had been published 40 years earlier. Jews were simply inserted as the villains of the piece. Imagine if you will someone taking a James Bond novel and substituting the evil cat-stroking mastermind with world Jewry. Ever since, and despite being debunked as a fraud on numerous occasions, most notably by The Times newspaper in the 1920s, the protocols have gone on to be taken as fact by Nazis, rednecks, Islamists and bigots the world over. Its pretty much never been out of print (Amazon supply it in a number of formats) and there is always at any given time some knuckle-dragging politician somewhere in the world prepared to quote it as truth.
As the opening pages of this Will Eisner book state: "Whenever one group of people is taught to hate another, a lie is created to inflame the hatred and justify a plot."
Academically the Protocols have long been shown up for the crock of ordure that they are. Comics genius Will Eisner set out to present the facts to a wider audience, and through an easy to digest medium - the comic strip. His artwork is flawless, and his storytelling (sequential art was how he thought of his work) is well paced and thorough. A good deal of time is spent comparing passages from the supposedly factual Protocols, with the fictional work it was adapted from. This section is very "un-comic strip" but is the nub of the debunking. The comic strip around it puts the context so well and then you are presented with the raw evidence. You are shown how it is rubbish, but also how the lie has lived on down the years.
I don't personally think the Protocols have led to racism, or directly to the Holocaust as some argue. I think rather that those already racist, already inclined to act like the Nazis, leap to them for justification. The protocols are a nasty little work, and it would be nice to think of a world where they had never been written. However, I don't think the 20th Century would have been markedly different without them.
They do excist though and its important that the lie is nailed whenever it is repeated. Eisner's book is the best hammer you will find to drive those nails in.
Will Eisner was a colossus of the comic book, and transcended the artforms's teen revenge fantasy outpourings to invent the grown up graphic novel. This final work, completed just before his death, serves as a very fitting, if chilling farewell.