AN EMPIRE OF ONE

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Sword’s Edge: One of the First Graphic Novels

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Sword’s Edge by Sanho Kim (“with” Michael Juliar) was published in the US in 1973, five years before Will Eisner’s A Contract with God.

Kim had been working for Charlton Comics after already having a substantial comics career in his native Korea. His book is an early example of the graphic novel format in this country, yet our histories have unjustly ignored it.

Although Kim did not call his book a graphic novel, a graphic novel it clearly is. It’s clear that he knew that his book was something new and not just another “comic book,” and felt the need to come up with a new term for it. What did he call it? “A montage book.”

Kim’s definition of “montage:”

In the book’s introduction, Kim explains what he wants his “montage” book to be:

 

 

Although he uses his own term, “montage,” Kim uses “comic book” more often. Perhaps he wasn’t entirely happy with his neologism, which, of course, did not catch on. Although the final page of the book promises a volume two of Sword’s Edge, another “montage” book never materialized. Poor sales? Probably. But that’s no reason to forget Sword’s Edge Part One: The Sword and the Maiden, one of the earliest published graphic novels in the US.

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Written by David Kilmer

November 30, 2011 at 10:13 am

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