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LYND WARD’S WORDLESS NOVEL: GODS’ MAN


lynd ward wood-cutThis book is fascinating

The Faustian story of an artist who signs away his soul for a magic paintbrush


Gods’ Man: A Novel in Woodcuts

BY LYND WARD

Gods’ Man is a wordless novel by American artist Lynd Ward (1905–1985) published in 1929. In 139 captionless woodblock prints it tells the Faustian story of an artist who signs away his soul for a magic paintbrush. Gods’ Man was the first American wordless novel, and is seen as a precursor of, and influence on, the development of the graphic novel.

Ward first encountered the wordless novel with Frans Masereel’s The Sun (1919) while studying art in Germany in 1926. He returned to the United States in 1927 and established a career for himself as an illustrator. He found Otto Nückel’s wordless novel Destiny (1926) in New York City in 1929, and it inspired him to create such a work of his own. Gods’ Man appeared a week before the Wall Street Crash of 1929; it nevertheless enjoyed strong sales and remains the best-selling American wordless novel. Its success inspired other Americans to experiment with the medium, including cartoonist Milt Gross, who parodied Gods’ Man in He Done Her Wrong (1930). In the 1970s Ward’s example inspired cartoonists Art Spiegelman and Will Eisner to create their first graphic novels. (Amazon)

 

VIDEO: LYND WARD’S GODS’ MAN

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RELATED

Passionate Journey: A Vision in Woodcuts

by Frans Masereel


(I bought Passionate Journey when I was 16 or 17 years old and working at a bookstore on 8th Street in The Village in NYC. I was spellbound by its content.)


“Look at these powerful black-and-white figures, their features etched in light and shadow . . . Has not this passionate journey had an incomparably deeper and purer impact on you than you have ever felt before?” — Thomas Mann

Belgian-born Frans Masereel (1889–1972) was one of the greatest woodcut artists of the twentieth century. Ingeniously portraying the human experience through dramatic art, this novel-without-words — crafted from 167 intricate woodcuts — is considered to be the Flemish artist’s masterpiece.

A feast for the eyes and the imagination, this powerful visual narrative details the life of an ordinary man. From the first bustling frame to the last haunting image, we are deeply drawn into the hero’s day-to-day encounters and discover a spirit in quest — one that we can profoundly relate to, emotionally and intellectually. Through each extraordinarily vivid depiction, readers feel the hero’s happiness, grief, awe, and despair. (Amazon)

 

VIDEO: FRANS MASEREEL’S DIE PASSION EINES MENSCHEN

 

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