Friday, July 18, 2008

Novel Art

In most graphic novels, both words and art meld to tell a complete, novel-length story. The wordless graphic novel is a rarer breed, which must depend solely on the artist's work to depict a narrative and develop intriguing characters. One of the earliest is Passionate Journey: A Novel Told in 165 Woodcuts created by Frans Maserell in 1919. In the book's introduction, Thomas Mann applauds Maserell's ability to speak to the common man through his images:

These picture-novels, mute but eloquent creations….are all so strangely compelling, so deeply felt, so rich in ideas, that one never tires of looking at them. But the most personal, the most intimate, the warmest, the most human and most candid of them all is this Passionate Journey. It is such a popular work that it is quite natural and fitting for a publisher to want to take it out of the realm of the esoteric and make it available to the worker, the taxi driver, and the young telephone operator. It belongs much more to the common people than to the snobs; and I am happy to do my part in making it better known to the democratic-minded public.

Below are a few more "mute" graphic novels at your library:

Mad Man's Drum: A Novel in Woodcuts by Lynd Ward

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Blood Song: A Silent Ballad by Eric Drooker

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels by George Walker

Sticks and Stones by Peter Kuper

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