Rise of the Graphic Novel

Will Eisner, circa 1970
A Contract With God, previous cover
Cover to The Will Eisner Library edition of A Contract With God (2000, DC Comics).

Seeking a more mature expression of the comics' form, Eisner spent two years creating four short stories of "sequential art" that became A Contract With God, first published by Baronet Books in 1978. In this book, with its 1930s Bronx tenements and slice-of-life moral tales, Eisner returned to his roots and discovered new potential for the comics form — the graphic novel.

Eisner followed A Contract With God with a series of graphic novels published by the alternative comics publisher Kitchen Sink Press. With subject matter ranging from semi-autobiographical (The Dreamer and To the Heart of the Storm), keen observations of modern life (The Building and Invisible People) and science fiction parable (Life on Another Planet) Eisner helped to break comics from the juvenile ghetto of superheroes and "funny books."