How to sound smart about… Will Eisner’s A Contract with God

I’m in the latest Comic Foundry as a contributing writer. My article is about Will Eisner’s A Contract with God.

If you haven’t picked up Comic Foundry yet, what’s your problem? It’s just the best magazine about comics and comic culture on the planet! Your local comic show doesn’t carry it or its sold out? Get your copy straight from the source at It’s good stuff!

As a small sampling, here’s my submitted article and the finished product.

The Sophisticate
How to sound smart about Will Eisner’s A Contract with God
We breakdown a classic so you can sound well-read

What is A Contract with God?
In 1978, Will Eisner created a microcosm of tenement life with A Contract with God. The work consists of four short novellas — The title story, A Contract with God, The Street Singer, The Super, and Cookalein. The stories are inspired by his youth living in the Bronx.

Why is it considered the first graphic novel?
Arguably, it is the very first graphic novel mostly because that’s how Eisner tried to sell the work to Bantam Books. The term may not have originated with Eisner, but the book is more akin to today’s anthologies than what is considered a graphic novel now such as Bone or Blankets.

Is there really a contract with God?
You’d have to ask Frimme Hersh. In the first story, Hersh abandons his religious upbringing after the death of his adopted daughter. The story was a personal one for Eisner as his own daughter passed away from leukemia and his own anguish is laid bare on the page.

What’s a cookalein?
“Cookalein” is Yiddish-English for “cook alone.” In the story of the same name, it describes a summer resort in the country where guests cooked their own meals. The story is, at times, overtly sexual and violent. Not something for the kiddies.

Can I find more stories of Dropsie Avenue?
Absolutely. A Contract with God is just the first collection . A Life Force and Dropsie Avenue round out the trilogy.