Will Eisner is one of the comic industry’s all-time greats. He has been held in high regard by fans and pros alike for many years to the point where the most prestigious awards in the comic industry were named after him. Legitimising the art form in the eyes of many and initiating the examination of comics from an educational standpoint, he is not only responsible for the legendary pulp comic hero The Spirit, but also popularised the term “graphic novel.” It was his 1978 work A Contract with God that is viewed as the comic that solidified the term in comic vernacular. Now Dark Horse is presenting this classic work in an oversized format that belongs on the shelf of anyone who values comic history.
For anyone who hasn’t already read A Contact with God, it is an absolute classic. Four stand-alone stories that focus on different residents of a Bronx tenement and the difficulties they encounter in their lives. This includes a deeply religious Jewish man who finds himself losing faith upon the death of his young stepdaughter, a struggling street singer, a bigoted super who kills himself after he is wrongly accused of child abuse and a trip to the Catskill Mountains by several of the residents that turns sour. Eisner’s amazing take on the reactions of people to social hardships is just as powerful today as it was at the time of publication.
But the main purpose of this edition is to highlight the artistic talent Eisner possessed and present it in the best way possible. Fitting right alongside other artist and curator editions, this deluxe sized slipcase not only includes the final inked pages in a companion volume, but also his original pencils in the main volume that have survived due to a different technique Eisner used when it came time to ink his pages. These pencil pages reveal details that ended up being removed from the final product and includes commentary from publisher Denis Kitchen and editor/designer John Lind that shed some light on Eisner’s creative process and why certain elements didn’t make the final cut. In addition, several essays from comic industry legends including Eisner Award winners Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons who discuss how Eisner’s opus helped shape their careers.
As a study of Eisner’s work, nothing really compares. There have been few projects that have had this level access to his raw work before it became the finished product. Not only is this an excellent excuse to read the comic that popularised the term “graphic novel,” but it is also an invaluable look into the creative process and talent of one of the comic industry’s true legends. This is one for any dedicated comic fan’s shelves or coffee table.
Will Eisner’s A Contract with God Curator’s Edition is out now from Dark Horse
9781506706399 – H/B – £165.00