One of the First Graphic Novels

The Library of America has made a wise decision to reprint six of the earliest graphic novels ever produced.  They are the woodcut based novels of Lynd Ward. 

Ward produced his most famous work, God’s Man, in 1929 at the age of 24 after studying woodcut production in Germany.  Five more woodcut graphic novels followed and they are all contained in these volumes.  Beautifully reproduced, these stories without words have a great power to tell the tale plus evoke an emotional response in the reader.  Thematically, they deal with a number of issues that were relevant in the hard times that Ward live through but I would argue that all of his themes are still important to today’s reader.

Ward also did three picture books for children and illustrated over two hundred books for other authors.  He won the Caldecott for The Biggest Bear in 1953. 

I would be curious to know if anyone is going to try to have a book discussion around these wonderful works.  Be forewarned, some of the novels have woodcut nudity in case you are thinking of using them with a young adult crowd.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

1 Comment on "One of the First Graphic Novels"

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  1. atodd@phpl.info' Alex says:

    We read Maus several years ago in my club. Surprisingly, the one person who didn’t like it was tired of the content – she had grown tired of World War II and holocaust stories. She just didn’t enjoy reading about them. The rest of the group liked the story and were intrigued by the format. We haven’t done a graphic novel since, maybe it’s time…

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