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Will Eisner in 2004
Will Eisner

A Contract with God is a 1978 graphic novel by American cartoonist Will Eisner (pictured). It is a short story cycle focusing on poor Jewish characters who live in a tenement in New York City. In the lead story, a religious man gives up his faith after the death of his young adopted daughter. The four stories in the novel are thematically linked with motifs of frustration, disillusionment, violence, and ethnic identity. Eisner uses large, monochromatic images in dramatic perspective, and emphasizes caricatured facial expressions. Few panels or captions have traditional borders. The small press Baronet Books released A Contract with God in 1978 and marketed it as a "graphic novel", which then became the common term for book-length comics. It sold slowly at first, but gained respect from Eisner's peers, and has since been reprinted by larger publishers. Eisner produced two sequels set in the same tenement: A Life Force in 1988, and Dropsie Avenue in 1995. A Contract with God cemented Eisner's reputation as an elder statesman of comics, and he continued to produce graphic novels and theoretical works on comics until his death in 2005. (Full article...)