Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels

Frans Masereel, Author, Lynd Ward, Author, Giacomo Patri, Author . Firefly $29.95 (423p) ISBN 978-1-55407-270-5

In his afterword to this jaw-dropping collection of early, little-known wordless graphic novels, cartoonist Seth asserts that rather than being seen only as a link between early comic strips and today's graphic novels, these stories stand powerfully on their own. The proof is in the stark appearance produced by wood cuts and lino-engraving and the themes in these once-controversial works: social unrest, the plight of the downtrodden worker and the oppression of the weak by the strong. Masereel's The Passion of a Man (1918) tells a modernist Christ story in 25 dark pictures, while Hyde's Southern Cross (1951) is a pastoral tragedy about Pacific islanders caught up in the U.S. Navy's A-bomb testing. Ward's Wild Pilgrimage (1932) is a passionate aria to the human spirit, threatened with crushing death by the specter of soulless factory work and cruel bosses. Patri's White Collar (1939) is the real standout; on the surface it's a simple story about a commercial artist fighting to keep his family going, but ending as a stunning validation of the dignity of man. Handsomely printed and bound and smartly edited, this book sets the standard for how to present anew the important but lesser-known classics of graphic fiction's past. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
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