Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Was the First "Graphic Novel?"

Like anything else, there are a number of possibilities when it comes right down to it--as well as a number of folks that claim that title for their work and most likely think they're correct in so doing. There always seems to be something earlier if you look, though.

Today, at our sale blog, I posted my copy of STARFAWN for sale. It probably wasn't the first either but it fits all the criteria, actually refers to itself as a "graphic novel" and predates such other contenders as Wood's KING OF THE WORLD, Eisner's A CONTRACT WITH GOD and even Steranko's CHANDLER: RED TIDE.

What's your opinion? What was the first graphic novel in the modern sense?


  1. Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin's BLACKMARK comes to mind!

  2. "It Rhymes With Lust" by Arnold Drake and Matt Baker gets put up as an early candidate. I've not read that one, so I don't know.

    I'd have to go along with vote for "Blackmark" too, based on first-hand knowledge.

    "Starfawn" is an awesome little book. After the fun but exceedingly loose "Schlomo Raven" in the first volume this taught sci-fi epic by Stephen Fabian is a rouser for sure.

    Rip Off

  3. Lot of stuff in the 1930s that would count - if Lynn Ward doesn't, surely Milt Gross does. There are several paperbacks of the 1950s that would count.
    The first modern may be "Between Time and Again" (1976) by George Metzger. That predates Eisner and Fiction Illustrated. Phil Yeh also put out an album that year. And of course, Tintin volumes were coming out in the USA starting around 1962...

  4. The Ward stuff and even Gross's book are certainly prototypes but not really the fully realized product as we think of it. Arnold Drake's book probably should qualify but nothing came of it for many years.The Tin-Tins are reprints of strips rather than original as books. Kane's Blackmark and maybe even Savage should count I suppose as at least an effort toward creating the format we know as a graphic novel. For the full product, I'd definitely give consideration to my FB friend Phil Yeh and quite frankly I'd forgotten Metzger's project entirely! All good points, folks! Thanks!