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Sword’s Edge: An Almost Forgotten Early Graphic Novel

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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.”

Here’s his definition of “montage” from inside the book:

Finally, here’s his introduction in which he states what he set out to do with Sword’s Edge.



Although he uses his term “montage” in this introduction, he still ends up using “comic book” more often. Perhaps he wasn’t entirely happy with the term, which, of course, did not catch on. One has to wonder if sales failed to fulfill Kim’s hopes. Although the final page of the book promises a volume two of Sword’s Edge, another “montage” book never materialized. 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.

The final page of Sword’s Edge promises a volume two that never came.

Written by David Kilmer

November 30, 2011 at 10:13 am