A contract with God: the birth of the graphic novel – Review
The Graphic Novel is a term that is now part of the everyday life of those who wanders in the world of comics, a definition that seems to exist forever. But I'm willing to bet that very few remember now that this concept appeared for the first time in 1978, when a certain Will Eisner (tell me anything, eh) has tried to explain how it arrived at the revolutionary style that consecrated his Contract with God.
I have a request, with the heart. Usually are of the idea that everyone should venture into the world of comic free by advice or directions, but for a Contract with God I'm going against my conviction. This volume must be read. Why, we shall leave him to say by the same Eisner
“In 1978, encouraged by the works of experimenters such as Otto Nuckel, Franz Maserel and Lynd Ward - that in the Thirties of the Twentieth century published novels without text, told only through the drawing-I cimentai in a challenging job, which in part took their example... I called the ‘graphic novel'”
Eisner has coined a term that we use often, perhaps excessively. The american designer wanted to tell with a different cut, the more raw if we want to, a reality that was part of his life. The basis of the Contract with God there is the desire to tell a glimpse of the real lives of a New York that no longer exists today, but has forged a generation of new yorkers who facing periods incredibly hard and that, if told today, seem to belong to a century remote.
The work of Eisner wanted to combine a written narrative clean and clear, to accompany drawings that knew how to push beyond empathy between story and reader. The intent was to use the building of the Dropsie Avenue in the Bronx, as an immense box from which to extract the stories that spoke not only of New York that was, but of the human condition, timeless, eternal. This objective was achieved in full by Eisner, he consecrated his work in the Olympus of the comic.
The title is referring to the first of the four stories that make up the work: the Contract with God, The singer of the road, the Super and Cookalein. In each of these four chapters, the Bronx is the stage of a human tragedy, lived through the lives of the characters are incredibly realistic, viable. Whether it is to analyze the relationship with the divine or with the disappointment of shattered dreams, that show the injustice of life, or of the cynicism of some, Eisner knows how to create a perfect balance between the drawing and the text, a fundamental presence in this volume.
The best known of these stories is a Contract with God, the story of Frimme Hirsche, but since my first reading, I've always preferred the Super. The title refers to the slang with which you were called, the handyman and the directors of the houses in the years ’30, and is the professional qualification of mr. Scuggs, gruff, and angry idol super of the building of the Dropsie Avenue. The man, the friend is only his dog, Hugo, is presented to us initially as a man to be regretted, but Eisner has the ability with the drawing only to show us all the inner world of man. The wistful look, the tenderness with which he feeds his only friend and drown in the alcohol his loneliness seem to re-evaluate the character.
Super is born from the memory of the figure of the mysterious factotum who ran the apartment house in which he lived Eisner in his childhood. The rest of the story is a fresco ruthless and raw, in which loneliness, treachery, and misunderstandings are intertwined, against the backdrop of a complicated society, that in the four stories, Contract with God also manages to show a form of mutual respect, a desire (or perhaps need it most) to find a law of coexistence, which will encourage mutual support. Bitter utilitarianism disguised as a sense of community, or vice versa? One of the unsolved mysteries contained in the Contract with God .
Stylistically, Eisner has a unique feature, inimitable. It is not only his way of drawing the subject, not very realistic and more veered to caricature at certain points, but the construction of a single cartoon, which seeks to win the reader to the emotional load that is not for likeness to reality. The way in which Frimme Hersh seems to almost turn to the player when he finally signed a new contract with his God, the instincts fostered by the alcohol of Scrugg, or the rage of vengeance of Beeny in Cookalein are all made at the best, with personality, uploading the scenes of emotion for the shots and for the poses of the characters. Eisner manages to get all the details visually more intriguing, without slipping into the vulgar, the nudity of women are presented if functional to the story, always in a natural way, respectful.
A contract with God is not only the most engaging and stylistically important to Eisner, but it is especially one of those turning points in the history of comics that it should be known, valued, and loved. Rizzoli has printed a new edition, enriched by an introduction by Scott McCloud in which you not only submitted the work but the same spirit of Eisner. After a brief historical note about the author, we find the introduction written by the same Eisner in a Contract with God in 2004, in which he explains the birth of this monument of a comic book.
A contract with God is a work that can not and should not miss in the library of a lover of comics and graphic novels in particular.
A contract with God is the genesis of the graphic novel, the masterpiece of Eisner, which is rebuilt for the New York of the now-forgotten but ruthless, beautiful, and incredibly alive
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