➼ [Reading] ➾ Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels by Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Giacomo Patri and Laurence Hyde By George A. Walker ➱ – Agedanna.info
If You Care About Graphic Novels, You Need This BookNew York Times Best Selling Author Neil GaimanGraphic Witness Features Rare Wordless Novels By Four Great Th Century Woodcut Artists European And North American The Stories They Tell Reflect The Political And Social Issues Of Their Times As Well As The Broader Issues That Are Still Relevant TodayFrans Masereel Was Born In Belgium And Is Considered The Father Of The Wordless Graphic Novel Graphic Witness Includes The First Reprint Of His Classic Work, The Passion Of A Man, Since ItsPublication In Munich American Lynd Ward , Author Of The Provocative Wild Pilgrimage, Is Considered Among The Most Important Of Wordless Novelists Giacomo Patri Was Born In Italy And Lived In The United States His White Collar Featured An Introduction By Rockwell Kent And Was Used A Promotional Piece By The Labor Movement Southern Cross By Canadian Laurence Hyde Was Controversial For Its Criticism Of US H Bomb Testing In The South PacificAn Introduction By George A Walker Places Each Wordless Novel In Its Context And Examines The Influence Of These Works On Contemporary Culture, Including Film, Comic Books And Contemporary Graphic NovelsGraphic Witness Will Appeal To Readers Interested In Social Issues, Printmaking, Art History And Contemporary Culture I want to give this 5 stars, but as I didn t have time to actually read everything, that is, take in the story and spend time with each page, I don t feel like I can give it the full 5 stars Maybe soon, when I finish the book In any case, some of the most beautiful art I ve seen, and a very interesting look at the beginning of comics. Fantastische verzameling woordloze romans in houtsnedes Met uiteraard Frans Masereel The passion of a man , 1918 en Lynd Ward Wild pilgrimage, 1932 , maar ook Southern Cross 1951 van Laurence Hyde en vooral het meesterlijke White collar 1938 van Giacomo Patri een ware ontdekking voor mij.Nawoord van Seth en boeiend voorwoord van samensteller houtsnijder George A Walker, die dieper ingaat op de verschillende technieken en de benodigde instrumenten. This volume contains four wordless graphic novels, as well as an introductory essay by George Walker and afterword by Seth Some of these works were suppressed for political reasons, because they were produced at a time of struggle the 1930s and one of them contains a scene that was for me at least too graphic The decapitation by the struggling protagonist of Wild Pilgrimage of the sadistic overseer with the killer holding up the decapitated head afterwards This was too much for me, since it reminded me of the horrible decapitation on video of the American in the Mid East years ago which was so horribly shocking at the time and such cruelty is still so shocking Right after the protagonist commits this grisly murder, though, he is in turn shot in the head by a cop and the final image shows him on the ground, with the stylized industrial plant in the background and his a woman grieving in the middle distance He had never managed to last at any job he had, and his end was just as miserable as his entire working life had been The art work throughout the book is top notch each page contains one image, created by linocuts, using various tools the process of producing such prints is explained in the introduction The fact that there are no words makes no difference these stories can be read in any language Some of these works are akin to a movie storyboard the action flows, and the reader or viewer can imagine the dialog exactly as one can fill in dialog in a silent movie There is no need to hear every line of dialog, because the action carries along the plot This is evenso in these novels without words This is a form of graphic novel which is not prevalent today, although the form was quite common years ago The wordless novel format was ideal for stories critical of the bosses or the oligarch All of the stories in this volume have some sort of social message It is no wonder these works were banned under various regimes, not even allowed in the US at various times I mentioned above the one scene in the four novels that I thought contained gratuitous violence the remaining scenes do not contain this level of grisly violence although lynchings are also portrayed in Wild Pilgrimage The working, struggling ordinary person is the hero or even, an entire people The final work deals with the residents of Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific which was evacuated before it was blown up by a hydrogen bomb by the US The residents had to leave their idyllic paradise Some who did not are then shown once the bomb goes off, with portions of their bodies flayed away, and other horrible ends as they and all the wildlife around them all die in the blast It is possible to read the book rather quickly since there is one image per page one stark image that could actually stand alone as a work of art The works are page turners since the reader wants to know what will happen next to the hero These are works that are certainly eye opening they question the fundamentals of the capitalist system and militarism No wonder they were suppressed. This book, edited by George A Walker, collects four wordless novels or picture novels of the early twentieth century The picture novel is a form that flourished largely between the two world wars and was then forgotten except for a few devotees, most of them comics creators who saw in these visual narratives the forerunners of the modern graphic novel And, as the graphic novel has risen to prominence, so the picture novels have been recovered As the title of Graphic Witness implies, the authors of these picture novels conceived of themselves as moral chroniclers, depicting in vivid and iconic imagery the evils and passions of their time Walker s superb introduction charts a global movement that begins in Europe around the Great War, arrives in America in time for the Depression, and finds its way to Japan after World War II before working its way back to the West The creators of this new form were, broadly, men of the left, protesting the brutalization of the worker under capitalism, the inhumane conditions of the modern metropolis, and the state capital war machine that set the workers of the nations at each other s throats The political ambiguities of this interwar working man s leftism, with its idealization of blood and soil and its fear adulation of the feminine, is discussed in my review of Lynd Ward s Gods Man On top of that, Walker s introduction also includes a set of informative sidebars on the technique of wood, linoleum, or lead engraving as employed by the creators of the picture novels.A brief afterword by the Canadian cartoonist Seth reflects on the relation of these picture novels to comics and, later, the graphic novel His conclusion is a complex one the picture novelists themselves, he says, were obviously influenced by silent film and at pains to distance their work from the vulgar comic strip yet their abortive ambition to create adult narratives using sequential art has been realized today in the form of the graphic novel which is, aesthetically, in continuity with the comics tradition going back to the Yellow Kid that the picture novelists eschewed This nuanced and somewhat counterintuitive interpretation seems right to me.To the books themselves Frans Masereel, The Passion of a Man The Belgian artist Masereel, later a friend of George Grosz and praised by Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse, is considered the first major figure in the picture novel tradition This brief narrative, which goes from a man s birth in poverty to his execution as a revolutionary, is an allegory for the suffering of the individual in the modern world Its title and its title page evoke the Passion of Christ as an analogue for man caught in the industrial machinery, though, as one image in the narrative makes clear by showing a cross hanging behind the court that sentences the hero to death, official Christianity is on the side of the oppressors Masereel s images are blocky and primitive, almost medieval, as befits his point of view on the subject matter though broadly Expressionist, there is none of the modernist stylishness that will characterize later artists styles in their own woodcut novels The hero is at several points refreshed by women from his mother, who breastfeeds him behind a fence in her urban outcast state, to a lover who oedipally propositions him by displaying her own breast and by nature and study he decides to lead a revolt against the capitalists after brooding in the forest and then reading a book never named The Communist Manifesto Bernie Sanders s platform The narrative s brevity and simplicity are at once its strength and weakness it tells the moral truth without subtlety or pretension, yes, but are Masereel s nobly suffering poor women, broodingly thoughtful working heroes, and bloodthirsty capitalist fatcats an adequate representation of the modern The point is not to chide Masereel for lacking political nuance which is not a legitimate aesthetic criterion but to note the loss of interest that comes from his retailing of cliches His ideas of good and evil are so utterly received, rather than imagined, that the book fails to live up to its passionate title Lynd Ward, Wild Pilgrimage This is asurreal version of the story one finds in Masereel and in Ward s earlier Gods Man, irritatingly mis titled God s Man throughout Walker s introduction In this version of the oppressed worker escapes revolts narrative, the worker s fantasy sequences are printed in red, in distinction to the black ink that predominates Ward s woodcut technique is polished, owing as much to Art Deco as to Expressionism, with fine lines and iconic figures Such artifice pleasingly contrasts with the novel s wild depiction of nature as a free but threatening space including the sexual nature of men Ward s superiority over Masereel and the other artists in Graphic Witness is indicated by Wild Pilgrimage s final red printed dream sequence, in which the worker hero attacks the fatcat capitalist and decapitates him, only to find that he is holding up his own head Which is to say what if the external enemy posited by socialism and fascism alike is not external at all, but is rather the resentful projection onto others of our own appetites And how many sociopolitical movements of today would have to grind to a halt if their partisans seriously asked themselves that difficult question It is this psychological insight that sets Ward above the other merely political practitioners of the picture novel collected in this volume He is less a witness than a prophet Giacomo Patri, White Collar This, a kind of pamphlet sponsored by organized labor, hammers home a fairly simple allegory about the economic fragility of the middle class, and the consequent benefits to that class of allying with the workers movement One imagines an organizer distributing it today to graduate students in the humanities Patri s linocut art is as clear as it needs to be, if sometimes far too literal as when a chain store helpfully called Chain Store drives the protagonist s small shop out of business The message remains relevant if not necessarily unimpeachable but this is propaganda, not art Laurence Hyde, Southern Cross This book, the only post WWII text collected here, protests the testing of nuclear weapons at Bikini Atoll, and the consequent despoiling of that island s environment and disruption of its inhabitants lives But Hyde s beautiful art especially in his depiction of marine life is in service to a sentimental allegory about noble savages that undermines rather than reinforces the book s political message would it somehow be better to nuke the Atoll if its inhabitants were a population of office workers or, dare I say, leftist woodcut novelists Lovely art, though.In conclusion, this is a valuable historical compilation, but its contents, with the exception of Wild Pilgrimage, mostly belong to the history of propaganda rather than to the history of art a timely warning to today s politics besotted generation of the dangers of political art, even as it also reminds us of lost possibilities for visual narrative A blurb by Neil Gaiman on the back cover speaks of the genius of Ward, Masereel, Patri and Hyde, but on the evidence of these four books, only Ward seems to merit such praise.