Novels without words - Lynd Ward, Eric Drooker and vacapinta's great Frans Masereel post
August 4, 2006 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Graphic novels without words are the silent movies of the printed page. Now, the inestimable and erudite vacapinta first directed us to the father of the genre, one Frans Masereel.    Up to recently, the most notable of Masereel's successors was Lynd Ward, whose most famous work was God's Man, subtitled A Novel in Woodcuts. Here are some more plates from God's Man for sale. Yet more plates can be found, along with a bad midi, at the Texas based Woodcuts - Lynn Ward: Gods' Man. And here are some illustrations from Georgetwon University's Lauinger Library September 2001 exhibit Lvnd Ward as Illustrator. Here, also, is Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary - Lynd Ward. And here is his Madman's Drum in its entirety.  But now we have a contemporary working in the same vein--Eric Drooker.   More inside
posted by y2karl (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Now hit refresh a couple of times on that last Eric Drooker link and dig those scrolling New Yorker covers on the splash page and then hop over to his Paintings page and dig the flash opening of his Native New York. Very cool, no ?

His New York paintings are so sublime and surreal.

On a sidenote, here is A Brief Tour of Eric Drooker's Megalopolis.

And here are Harcourt Books' Interview with Eric Drooker and, from Comics Journal, Eric Drooker Interviewed by Chris Lanier.

Also of interest in this context is the Library of Congress online exhibit Life of the People.
posted by y2karl at 11:22 AM on August 4, 2006

Two of my favorites among the old GI Joe comics series were the silent ones: #21 (Silent Interlude) and Hush Job (from Yearbook 3). I've heard that the first one only shipped without text because the text was not ready at the time of printing, and that it was not specifically designed to be a silent issue from the start.
posted by ducksauce at 11:41 AM on August 4, 2006

Your copy-and-paste skills continue to amaze, y2karl.
posted by reklaw at 11:51 AM on August 4, 2006

ducksauce -- that rumor sounds rather sketchy. the comics script usually has to be completed before the issue can be drawn. besides, the entire focus of "Silent Interlude" was to introduce Storm Shadow and have a running battle of ninjas stalking ninjas; so making it a silent issue is just a natural extension of the concept.

There's more background on the most awesome GI Joe issue ever available on YoJoe. It does seem rather cheesey compared to y2karl's posted examples, but one can probably trace the current postmodern formula of ninjas = awesomeness to this.
posted by bl1nk at 11:54 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Nufonia Must Fall is quite good. It has its own soundtrack to boot.
posted by chunking express at 12:03 PM on August 4, 2006

Demian5's "When I Am King"
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:07 PM on August 4, 2006

Great post thanks y2karl. I'll have to go through all the links later. I've had Lynd Ward on my mind for months and months for my own thang but kind of got put off by that shabby/old Bpip site. There used to be a UTexas site (maybe that's the Bpip in another guise? - perhaps I'm misremembering and confusing Georgetown, hmmm) devoted to him which was also a bit decrepit I seem to recall. So it will be good to go through the total of what's out there.

Folks may also like the work of Jean de Bosschère - I'm not sure whether his personal (as opposed to commercial) work was released sans text, but he was on a quest to marry word and image [early 20th cent. Belgian].
posted by peacay at 12:20 PM on August 4, 2006

“Text wasn’t ready” urban legend debunked.
posted by hilker at 12:34 PM on August 4, 2006

This is a wonderful post, karl, thanks! All I can add is this link to another woodcut novel I'm lucky enough to own, Otto Nuckel's Destiny, and this Library Journal essay discussing the form's renaissance.

Incidentally, Madman's Drum and God's Man are both available from Dover, for under $8 each.

But the timing is a little creepy. Were you peeking in my window this morning when I pulled my woodcut novels off the shelf for research for a post here? If so, I apologize for not closing my bathrobe.
posted by mkhall at 12:44 PM on August 4, 2006

Great post. I've actually chatted with Eric Drooker a few times- he used to visit our West Oakland warehouse, being a friend of my housemate. It's always cool to get a New Yorker and recognize his work on the cover.

I often thought about asking him to autograph my King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime album, but then felt too foolish to do so.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:15 PM on August 4, 2006

I often thought about asking him to autograph my King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime album, but then felt too foolish to do so.

There's a link for ya.
posted by y2karl at 1:22 PM on August 4, 2006

Dual reference: FNM singer Patton's new band Tomahawk used Lynd Ward prints on their first album's cover art.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:24 PM on August 4, 2006


(thanks, Y2k)
posted by oneirodynia at 1:30 PM on August 4, 2006

Super post karl. Lynd Ward was a childhood hero of mine. I appreciate being introduced to Drooker. Very good.
posted by Faze at 1:39 PM on August 4, 2006

Thanks, for the link, hilker. I heard the rumor for the first time today while looking for a link to post up above, so I'm glad it was debunked within 24 hours for me.

From hilker's link:
I wanted to see if I could do a story that was a real, complete story - beginning, middle, end, conflict, characterization, action, solid resolution - without balloons or captions or sound effects. I tried to do it again, as a matter of fact, with the Joe Yearbook #3 story.
posted by ducksauce at 1:56 PM on August 4, 2006

Here is Eric Drooker's Sequential Art as a stand alone.

Joyful Noise is a favorite. But what is the song and who is that on the trumpet--any ideas ?

From The Icarus Project, here is Drooker's Subway Skeletons.
posted by y2karl at 2:07 PM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

And here is My Buddhist Rabbi, a eulogy Drooker wrote in memory of his friend and sometime collaborator Allen Ginsberg.
posted by y2karl at 2:23 PM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

If this contest was in place a long time ago, Karl would be a wealthy man.
posted by wheelieman at 2:45 PM on August 4, 2006

Norwegian graphic-novel artist Jason has also done some wordless stuff. I'm a fan.
posted by box at 3:19 PM on August 4, 2006

Great post! Really loved Eric Drooker's stuff. Thanks!
posted by sluglicker at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2006

Masereel is truly the daddy of the form. Penguin re-released "A Passionate Journey" in the UK in the 1980s, then remaindered it, and I bought stacks of copies and gave them to everyone who I thought might appreciate it. The art itself is beautiful, but his narrative skills are sublime.
posted by Hogshead at 4:30 AM on August 9, 2006

My friend Pete wrote his dissertation on Lynd Ward just recently, btw.
posted by redteam at 12:41 AM on August 18, 2006

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