From Red Trees Times, December 4, 2008, redtreestimes.com
This is from the wordless graphic novel, Madman’s Drum, from the mind of the talented Lynd Ward, done in 1930. It is a self-described novel in woodcuts but to me has the feel of the truly great silent films from the years prior to its publication. When I came across his work 13 or 14 years ago I was blown away by the feel, by the dynamic compositions and by the rawness of the storylines. Each frame was put together so beautifully. I am at a loss for words to describe how his images spoke to me, how his handling of light and dark told more than words.
His first and perhaps more famous graphic novel was Gods’ Man, published in 1929. This was actually the first Ward work that I saw. I have a newer edition from Dover that is very nice, very sharp, but the first book of his I saw was an older edition in the library from the 1930’s. It was a bit yellowed and the paper slightly rough, the spine rubbed and worn. It all contributed to the overall feel of the work. It felt like I was finding a certain truth, something that was tucked away, a spirit voice waiting to be heard.
The boldness of the lines and the way the shapes and forms filled the picture frame boggled my mind. It was so cinematic, so stylized. Detail was stripped away but each frame lost no emotional impact.
It was everything I wanted in my work. But I knew that could not be. He is a true individual and his work is his and his alone. I didn’t want to emulate. I wanted to absorb the feel and use that feel to create something that was my own. It showed me the possibility.