The powerful imagery and intensity of Ward's wordless novels have elicited comparisons to Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe. This 1930 work tells a gripping tale through imagery alone, consisting solely of 128 hauntingly rendered woodcuts.
The wordless pictorial novels of Ward and his predecessor Frans Masreel (Passionate Journey) are important precursors to the modern graphic novel. This is the first-ever reissue of Ward's remarkable second woodcut novel, from 1930 (following 1929's Gods' Man). Here, Ward's masterful black-and-white woodcut panels, one to a page, tell a family saga spanning three generations with power and economy. A slaver kills an African man and steals the man's drum, and then returns home to his wife and son. When he finds his son playing the drum, the slaver scolds the boy and gives him a book instead. The son becomes exceedingly studious, rejecting temptation in the form of a pied piper; but when he grows up and sires his own family, he discovers that studiousness is no guarantee of happiness or success. Ward's incisive, highly detailed artwork uses expressionistic backgrounds and lighting effects to portray great depth of feeling. Without words, following the story requires more work than usual for the reader, but the effort is definitely rewarded. With mature themes (and a bit of nudity), this is recommended for most adult collections and for fans of wordless graphic novels such as Eric Drooker's Blood Song.-S.R. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.