via The Comics Alliance:

Though he wasn’t the first person to use it, legendary comics creator Will Eisner is credited with popularizing the term “graphic novel” to describe the long-form comic book story. As the story goes — or at least, as it’s often repeated in Eisner biographies like Bob Andelman’s A Spirited Life and Michael Schumacher’s A Dreamer’s Life in Comics — is that Eisner needed something other than “comic book” to call A Contract With God in order to get publishers to take it seriously, and came up with the term “graphic novel” on the spot.

That’s been the accepted origin for his use of the term since 1978, but while doing research for an upcoming project on race in comics at Ohio State University’s Eisner collection, college professor and comic book scholar Dr. Andy Kunka discovered that it’s not actually the case.

In addition to comics and original art, OSU also has a vast collection of Eisner’s letters and personal correspondence, including an August, 1974 exchange with creator Jack Katz, who was seeking Eisner’s criticism of his book, The First Kingdom, where Katz says:

Here is the first book of a series of 24 books which it will take to complete the epic. … What I am starting is a graphic novel in which every incident is illustrated.

Four years before Eisner pulled the words “graphic novel” out of the ether, he read it in a letter. And as Kunka explains, this “at least provides an addendum to the oft-repeated story of how he came to use the term to describe A Contract with God. And, therefore, the accepted wisdom of that story needs to be revised.”

There’s more at the link so hop over to read the rest.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.