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A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories

(The Contract With God Trilogy #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  11,214 ratings  ·  531 reviews
Go back to where graphic novels all started, on the Bronx street of Dropsie Avenue and A Life Force, in Will Eisner's groundbreaking 1978 creation. The human drama, the psychological insight -- Eisner captures the soul of the city and its troubled inhabitants with pen and ink. The comics medium was altered forever with the publication of this seminal work. ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published September 19th 1985 by Kitchen Sink Press (first published 1978)
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Popular Answered Questions
Phrodrick how does it aid in real christian perspective?
The shortest answer is that it does not, specifically.
The larger truth is, like most of serious Eisner …more
how does it aid in real christian perspective?
The shortest answer is that it does not, specifically.
The larger truth is, like most of serious Eisner more complex.
First Eisner was Jewish. As such his POV wasJewish.
However this is a deeply spiritual book and as far from Nihilistic as possible. Conclusions are often murky and optimism is not obviously rewarded.
Miracles large and small happen. People prey and are rewarded for it. Even if not the answer they thought they wanted.
There is justice, even if it comes about in indirect ways. People can always mess it up.
If you are looking for conclusions requiring specific evocations of or surrendering to Jesus. Not there. If you are looking for hope in dark places it is there.

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  11,214 ratings  ·  531 reviews

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Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"They are true stories. Only the telling and the portrayals have converted them to fiction."

Will Eisner`s A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories is simple, intense and deep.

An amazing storytelling with wonderful art!
Pramod Nair
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Pramod by: Ginesh
Shelves: graphic-novel
A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories’ written and illustrated by Will Eisner, one of the giants in the sequential arts arena, is a perfectly executed graphic novel, which provides the reader a peek at the American experience during the early 1930s. Through four interconnected graphic stories, Eisner provide insights into the human condition while drawing on the memories of his growing up in New York during that time period.

A brief look at Will Eisner as a master graphic artist

Born in
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
book #10 for Jugs & Capes! And essay #3 for CCLaP! In fact, someone from Will Eisner Studios actually contacted me to say they enjoyed the review. Neat!


Ah, Will Eisner. Undoubtedly the father or the modern graphic novel, his influence has been huge and sweeping. I mean, that's what they tell me; I'm sure that 90 percent of the people reading this review know a hell of a lot more about Will Eisner than I do. But I do know that 1978's A Contract With God is an incredibly important work in a way
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will Eisner's legendary graphic novel (one of the first of its kind) is a semi-autobiographical collection of four sad, sometimes downright bleak and depressing stories centered around the residents of one tenement in the Bronx in or around 1930's. Eisner's storytelling is masterful, the characters are full of life and the stories still resonate despite being decades old at this point. It's not a very pleasant read since most of these stories are about human suffering and misery, but there's no ...more
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, ircb-2019
One of Eisner's seminal works. Released in 1978, A Contract with God was one of the first graphic novels ever produced. Eisner based the stories on his life as they tell tales of various tenants of a tenement in the Bronx. A Contract with God is the first time he ever discussed the death of his daughter even though Eisner himself is not in the story. The stories are of a mature nature and certainly not for children. Eisner's black and white art is glorious with exceptional lettering. This is one ...more
Greta G
Review of A contract with God

This was one of the first Graphic Novels I've read, and it has always stayed with me. I'm not sure why. I've reread it a few days ago and I still don't know why this story affects me. The story wasn't that great, and it was also rather short.

In the book, an orthodox jew loses his faith after his daughter dies. He doesn't understand, because all he ever did was serving God and after all, he had a contract with God, written on a stone.

I think the mere idea of a contr
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
This is a grim graphic novel consisting of four intertwined stories of characters and lives in a 1930s Bronx tenement - basically autobiographical, by the great comic book artist and graphic novel genre creator Will Eisner.

The introductory essay by S. McCloud was well-written and placed the work in context, as well as conveying information about the life and career of Eisner. The lead off story ("A Contract with God") reflects the author's anguish at having lost his only daughter at age 16 eigh
Alex Cunningham
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: searchers
Eisner himself admits in his multiple introductions to this volume that "A Contract With God" was in some ways an experiment which led him to develop the skills he'd use in a far more serious way on "Dropsie Avenue." "Dropsie Avenue" is indeed the superior work.

That caveat out of the way, "A Contract With God" is one of the more moving, deep, and visually surprising graphic novels ever, despite it being the first. The writing is sensitive, empathetic, and poetically simple. The images are master
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sequential-art
The art style is perfect: lively, moody and the emotion of Eisner's faces are impeccable. There's also some nice details about mostly Jewish city life and its customs, its just a shame the rest of this book was bloody horrid.
Of all the stories in this graphic novel, only the first was interesting; a tale of losing faith and your moral core, a modern Job tragedy. Read A Contract With God and then put the book back on the shelf, because nothing else here is worth your time.
We have domestic abuse,
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the non-violent sides of Stray Bullets and Scorcese
Shelves: comics
Considered to be the first graphic novel, this tells the story - in 4 parts - of New York circa the Great Depression. The characters are caricatures of lives from Eisner's past, and while it is a primarily Jewish neighborhood, I think anyone with a brain and heart pumping blood, etc can identify with the scenese painted here. It tackles those subjects that stuff like "The Wire" still tries (and fails) to capture today - those sinews that bind each life together, and ultimately keep them bound if ...more

An edited review of this book will come sooner or later, this last one was pretty bad.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Each story ends in tragedy, excepting the last one which is hilarious in comparison. They are independent from one another with only a street address in common.

Frimme's story has a tragic ending - his adopted daughter Rachele dies. He remembers his youth and his good deeds that got him to write a contract with God on a small stone. He continued to live his life in wholesome way, thinking himself and Rochelle protected by the contract. God tests his faith when Rachelle dies and Frimme fails miser
Me giving a book one star does not happen very often. Don't get me wrong - the art is spectacular, but it doesn't outweigh my distaste of two of the four stories. All the spoilers will be hidden.

I don't know what those stories are supposed to be read as. I expected to see how people lived in New York in the 30s, and in a way, I got a glimpse of it, but not much more. Is there some deeper meaning I'm not getting? Is this one of those "you'll understand it when you're older" kind of works? I don't
When I read really old comics, I'm usually unenthused. Before reading Hergé's Tintin, I heard all about its groundbreaking and influential place in the history of graphic books. But reading Tintin is an altogether disappointing experience. The art is dull and simplistic, the stories are poorly written, and the whole experience is uninspiring. I'm sure that someone smarter than me can explain its merits, but they are not self-evident.

A Contract with God, however, is the exact opposite. It does no
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, comics
A Contract with God by Will Eisner is a master class in comics. The text becomes a part of the art – lettering dripping wet with rain or as shown as laundry hanging on the line. Eisner’s use of black backgrounds that create panels by contrast alone asks the viewer to engage with the gutter/lack of a gutter in a way I have not seen before. The smooth transition between panels and panel-less pages is so well executed it took me a few chapters to even see it.

I found many of the plot lines very unse
Jim Ef
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
All 4 stories are awesome but "contract with God" is my favorite, i loved it. The first graphic novel is one of the best graphic novels ...more
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
I picked this book on my first visit to a public library, when I almost robbed their entire graphic novels section. I was picking up anything that looked remotely interesting(given that I am not a man of many books) and somehow this book made the list of 30 books that one is allowed to rob.

I had not heard of Will Eisner before and it was only in the Preface of this book did I realize that this book is considered(albeit controversially) one of the precursors of the modern graphic novel(if there
Jun 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Jewish history
I read this for a course I'm taking at the local library in July about Jewish literature, identity and imagination - the course is being taught solely through graphic novels. So far, the course is terrible, but this book was intriguing. Since I'm not Jewish, I didn't have a ton of context behind my reading. I found the main story to be allegorical - man is good, makes a contract with god, which all Jews have from birth. Life takes a bad turn, man loses faith and, in the story, literally tosses i ...more
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. It is a lot more down to Earth and realistic than I imagined it would be going in. The art can be exaggerated at times, but that lends itself to some of the impact that the stories have. And that is what this book is, a collection of stories that are all based around tenements in New York during the 1930s (or so). Eisner's personal touch to each of these stories is what makes them work so well. ...more
Himanshu Karmacharya
Considered to be the first graphic novel, A contract with God by Will Eisner dwells on bitter Sweet stories about the social life of 1930s US. The art is simple yet beautiful and the writing is fluid.
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I am told this is the OGN (original graphic novel.) While it is a bit old, no doubt (it was published before I was born!) it is absolutely readable today, probably owning to the fact that the stories are set in the 30s. I was curious, of course, since Will Eisner has a bunch of awards named after him, to find out what this was all about.

There is a different feel to the art; many pages consist of just one big illustration with floating narration. Other pages have a more traditional layout, akin t
Shruthi Vijayan
It's been a while since I read a book and I'm glad I broke the hiatus with this one. Before buying the book, I'd done a bit of basic search into Will Eisner, the stalwart whose name entitles awards (Eisner Awards) given for creative excellence in the comics/graphic novel industry. Mr. Eisner's 'A Contract with God' was a pioneer in the graphic novel genre on account of its avant garde style for its time. He contributed to the flashy comic book style a more nuanced edge by opting to delve into hu ...more
Brian Bokser
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is divided in four parts, each of which tells a different story, all of them related to a building and its neighbors, a tenement inspired by Will Eisner's childhood building.
The stories illustrate the problems and living style of the 1930s in New York. The author is very ironic and cynical.
The characters are generally middle-low income, probably immigrants or first generation born in the United States. Many of the characters are of Jewish origin and the story is filled with Yiddish word
review later
I didn't know I was picking up the master of graphic novels when I picked up this one. Such beautiful artwork, with details to show what the protagonist feels in every panel, gripping narration making you feel for the characters and interwoven plots on the same panel - this book is different from every other graphic novel I've read. And now I know why Eisner has awards named after him.
The preface sets the tone for the book, and you know the stories are real, the people are too.
And that makes i
Aritra  Dasgupta
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
The one that started it all. The first proper graphic novel. And yeah, it's a masterpiece.

Will Eisner said in the introduction that he wanted the story to not be bounded by space or format. And it shows. The framing is impeccable, it's iconic in its use of space, even the blank spaces add character, pauses and emphasis on what is. The art is iconic. It's bouncy and flowy af and the characters have that comic character feel not unlike say mickey mouse, with exaggerated features but it just adds a
Tom Brennan
I would say they don't write them like this anymore, but I don't think they ever really did, making this short story collection a true original. Like the best geographical fiction (Joyce's Dublin, Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County), Eisner provides a sense of the place (a tenement in New York City) and the people therein, right down to the accents. While the setting makes the characters unique, their desires ((financial) security, sex, love, companionship, respect) are universal. Be prepared for s ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition[return][return]This is very good. The title story in particular (I have actually been to the synagogue in Tbilisi/Tiflis, where the main character starts his life), and the last story, "Cookalein" which juggles about a dozen characters and storylines and stays on top of them all in only 50-odd pages are very memorable; I was a bit less satisfied with the middle two, which both feature nasty male characters who exploit those around them and then get their co ...more
Tatsuhiro Sato
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 🌟

Holy 🐄 ! This graphic novel established itself as a milestone in my habit of reading. Prior to this, many graphic novels I have read earlier, also dealt with darker, mature and adulthood themes. Also they have explicit art work but this graphic novel took both of it to a whole new level.

I was expecting it to be a juvenile comic, but it is surely a R-rated both for the real dark stories it presents and also it's art work. Want to give it 4.5 - 5 🌟 but I found it a little hard to digest.

Will d
Victoria Lev
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first of the four stories, A Contract With God, is my favorite, but the book in its entirety is revolutionary. The first if its kind, this graphic novel surpassed my expectations. Not only are the stories poignant and interestingly complex, the drawings are spectacularly detailed and, frankly, quite beautiful.
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Will Eisner was born on March 6, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. By the time of his death on January 3, 2005, Will Eisner was recognized internationally as one of the giants in the field of sequential art, a term he coined.

In a career that spanned nearly eight decades -- from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics - Will Eisner was truly the 'Father of the Graphic Novel' and the 'O

Other books in the series

The Contract With God Trilogy (3 books)
  • A Life Force
  • Dropsie Avenue: The Neighborhood

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