It’s fair to say that Will Eisner invented modern comic art. A Contract with God has been called the first graphic novel, and its divergence from traditional comics themes and forms highlights Eisner’s foresight and brilliance. Dealing with stories and memories from his childhood in a Bronx tenement, he explores the brutality, fragility, and tenderness possible among people living in close quarters close to the poverty line.
The four stories here are tough but funny, deep but finely detailed, much like the traditional Jewish stories he drew upon to flavor his own work. Ending reflectively (and perhaps autobiographically), A Contract with God shows us a young man peering out into his city as he decides whether and how to face adulthood. You won’t see that in the funny papers.
- A Contract with God, “the first graphic novel”
- Author: Will Eisner
- Four stories