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Exhibition Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages

Impact, no. 1. New York: I. C. Publishing Co., March–April 1955. Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (040.00.00)
The Spirit, no. 2. New York: Real Adventures Publishing Co., Summer 1952. Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (040.01.00)

Inspiration for Graphic Novels

Often credited to artist Will Eisner, the term “graphic novel” was introduced in 1978. Eisner wanted to differentiate more serious comic works from comic books, which were frequently disparaged as childish. Today graphic novels include narratives for both children and adults, ranging from long-running children’s series to non-fiction and memoir. The final story and panels from this issue of Impact are cited as among the most influential forerunners of graphic novels and were inspirational to legendary independent artist and graphic novelist Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus. One of Eisner’s most famous characters, the Spirit, first appeared as a syndicated newspaper comic in 1940. Eisner’s graphic style and compelling storytelling in The Spirit continue to influence artists working today.