Graphic novel trailblazer Will Eisner, whose A Contract with God is considered one the first serious American literary graphic novels, died last week just as his work is being recognized by traditional book publishers. W.W. Norton, which had previously announced plans to publish Eisner's The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion this May, announced a deal, negotiated just before Eisner's death, to acquire most of his graphic novel backlist from DC Comics. The books will be rereleased in hardcover and softcover over the next three years.
Norton executive edtior Bob Weil said the house has acquired 14 graphic novels, while DC Comics retains the rights to collections of the groundbreaking comic The Spirit. Weil plans to package three of the graphic novels into The Contract with God Trilogy, which will be released in hardcover in November. All 14 books will be reissued in trade paperback later. "The story on Will Eisner has just begun to be told," said Weil. "Graphic novels are just beginning to be recognized, but he'll be considered the great master of the form."