Tuesday, May 18, 2010
A Contract with God
"A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories is a graphic novel by Will Eisner that takes the form of several stories on a theme. Published by Baronet Books (ISBN 0-89437-035-9) in October 1978 in simultaneous hardcover and trade paperback editions — the former limited to a signed-and-numbered print-run of 1,500 — it is often erroneously called the first graphic novel, or the first work to describe itself as such. It is nonetheless an early landmark of the form, and critically lauded in its own right.
DC Comics later acquired the rights to the book, which that publisher reissued in 2001 (ISBN 1-56389-674-5). It runs 196 pages.
The work consists of four short stories — "A Contract With God", "The Super", "The Street Singer", and "Cookalein" — all set in a Bronx tenement in the 1930s, with the last story ("Cookalein") also taking place at a summer getaway for Jews. The stories are semi-autobiographical, with Eisner drawing heavily on his own childhood experiences as well as those of his contemporaries. Utilizing his talents for expressive lettering and cartoonish figures, he links the narratives by the common setting and the common theme of immigrant and first-generation experiences, across cultures."
"An inspiration to several generations of cartoonists."
Art Spiegelman, author of Maus