Monday, September 22, 2008

The Novel Without Words - Lynd Ward

It's been a busy last few days at the gallery. The Calgary Artwalk was having it's 25th year of inviting people out for a stroll through participating galleries over the weekend. The fall weather was fabulous and the gallery (Arts on Atlantic) hosted two artist demonstrations, so I have been very busy.

The novel without words or so called graphic novel came of age with the telling of stories through the use of image only, no text. What we know today as a 'graphic novel' refers to comic style, novel length stories told with accompanying balloon text. In essence the story can be relayed through the use of the pictures and the text and in many cases the story line can be gleaned by perusing the pictures without the text.
Some early proponents of the wordless novel include Lawrence Hyde, Otto Nuckel, Frans Masreel and Lynd Ward. All of these artists used the traditional relief printmaking techniques of wood engraving or woodcut as their medium of choice. This was laborious work as each image was to be cut on a block. In many cases the final books (Novels) were printed from the blocks themselves. The wood engraving or woodblock in black and white makes a strong image and is a very good medium to convey a story line.
These novels were in many cases politically or morally motivated and were used to convey a message to the masses. American artist Lynd Ward brpought the idea of the graphic novel to the US. Lynd Ward decided to be an artist when at an early age he realized that his last name spelt backwards is "Draw". He studied in Germany under Hans Alexander Mueller a noted wood engraver. There he was exposed to the works of Belgian, Frans Masreel, and the German, Otto Nuckel. His ideas for a graphic novel were forming.
Soon after returning to the US his first graphic novel Gods' Man was released. Interestingly enough it was published and released the week of the big stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. It was so successful it was into it's third printing by January of 1930. There were 139 wood engraved images printed on one side of the page only. It explores the life of an artist and price of artist fame. Here are the first few images.



Dover Publications recently published the full unabridged replications of Gods'Man and Ward's second work , Madmans Drum. Tommorow more on Lynd Ward.

19 comments:

willow said...

Oh, these are gorgeous prints!! Amazing the work envolved to produce these lovlies. Very interesting post about a subject I know very little of.

A World Away said...

Willow they are and at 139 for the volume it was tiresome, sometimes tedious work cutting all the blocks. Ward was a perfectionist by all accounts and if the mood or the expressions in the images didn't convey the message well enough Ward would just discard that block and start again. The perils of perfectionism.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This was so interesting to me. Some of his drawings remind me of Rockwell Kent a bit. I can't imagine the dedication it would take to complete something of this scope.

Also, on a more trivial note... I just love the name Otto Nuckel!

A World Away said...

Oh Pamela I can't wait to get to Rockwell Kent. I'm a huge fan of Kent. There is definitely a similarity in the style.

acornmoon said...

Thanks for this very interesting post. What stunning illustrations, using the constraints of the medium in such a powerful way, capturing movement and mood with just a few lines.

Thanks also for the information about the little Elephant book, I visited the website and saw many treasures.

Margaret said...

The engravings are spectacular! What a lovely book. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Annie Wicking said...

What amazing pictures...

Somehow black and white pictures seem to invoke more emotions

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hi Stephen. What an interesting blog. I had never heard of the graphic novel before and love the idea of Ward becoming an artist when he realised his name spelled draw backwards! And to then use the medium he did, which requires patience and absolute precision - how I envy such people.

willow said...

Hi...just stopping by to say hello and see if anything is happening at "World Away". Hope all is well with you and yours.

willow said...

Hello! Me again, stopping by for my weekly visit. Hope all is well and that no news means good news. I miss you dear bloggy friend!

aims said...

Oh my goodness. The black box has brought me to a fellow Albertan!

Good to see you here and you have a lovely blog. I loved your pic of the Oldman River.

Nice to see you are into art as well. If you have a peek over at my blog you'll see a post where my brother and I are doing the Festival of Crafts and the Butterdome this year. My brother does the pottery. I am especially proud of his work as it is quite unusual. There's a link to his work on my sidebar.

He also does the whitewater rafting business - 28 years now on the Upper Red Deer. Quite a life! I do adore him obviously!

I've had a wonderful visit. I'll be back again.

willow said...

Well, it's Tuesday and I'm popping in for my weekly visit! Maybe you are off on a long enjoyable fishing excursion? Hope so, dear friend.

Willow x

willow said...

Just me...paying my Tuesday visit! :^)

French Fancy said...

Well hello to a fellow black boxer and I see the lovely Willow cares about you so you must be a good bloke, as we say.

I gather from her comments that you have gone absent from your blog and hope that all is ok.

Katherine said...

Here the black box. Interesting blog. I'll be back. - Kiwi Kate.

Margaret said...

I hope you're back to blogging soon, Stephen! I miss your posts.

willow said...

Me, too! Just popping in to say hello. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

Val said...

black box brought me here - what a fascinating blog - thanks

Patricia said...

I just found you! I am holding this book in my hands! I wonder how many original books were printed? My grandfather used to buy books all the time; first editions, special bindings, etc. He worked downtown Chicago, and managed to fill up three entire mahogany book cases, each about 5' x 8'. Some books signed by author. This book is in incredible shape, with the edge cut being 'rough' looking. Books are very precious in my family, and I'm grateful for having grown up with cultural exposure on the North Shore. I am so glad to have stumbled upon your blog, as I'm sure it holds treasures! I will check back here soon to see if anyone may have some feedback! ~ Namaste ~