Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Lynd Ward

One of the most intriguing books I have recently read is Graphic Witness, a collection of four wordless graphic novels edited by George A. Walker. I bought it because I knew and love the work of Frans Masereel, one of the featured artists. I'll have to post about him later. An artist that was new to me is Lynd Ward.

Ward produced a number of wordless graphic novels, made up of a series of striking woodcuts in a sort of Expressionistic/Gothic/Art Deco style. Three of these have been recently republished in attractive, easily affordable editions by Dover, while another, Vertigo, seems to be out of print. A fifth, Song Without Words, I could not find a cover for.

Ward is probably best known, at least in his native US, for The Silver Pony, a children's book he wrote and illustrated.

He also did the covers (and illustrations) for a number of other children's books.

In addition, he has done covers and interior illustrations for a number of classic novels as well. The cover one without a title below is Richard Hughes' A High Wind in Jamaica. Of the Frankenstein, more to follow...

I found a couple of other books with his work on the covers.

Here are some of the marvellous interior illustrations for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Here are some of the pages from Gods' Man...

..from Mad Man's Drum...

..and from Song Without Words.

And here's an illustration for an edition of Beowulf that I can't trace.

Much more Ward can be found here, here and here (the last of which leads you to all of the Frankenstein illustrations--beware, though, that it also belongs to a mildly mad chap determined to prove that Percy Shelley wrote Frankenstein, rather than it being the work of Mary Shelley).

UPDATE: Will of A Journey Round My Skull has got his hands on a copy of the Beowulf (see comments), and has reproduced the beautiful artwork from it here. Go and look and marvel!


PIGNOUF said...

Beau travail, superbe série...
A bientôt...:)

JRSM said...

My pleasure!

Ricky Grove said...

I've always loved Lynd Ward. Your post on him is wonderful. So pleased to see editions of his works coming back into print. At the bookstore where I work we have "Storyteller Without Words: The Wood Engravings of Lynd Ward" which has a lot of biographical information as well as superb illustrations.

I've just discovered your blog. Book covers and illustrations are a subject after my own heart. Thanks!

JRSM said...

So glad you stumbled upon my blog, Mr Grove! I'm going to have to get that book on Ward--his work is fascinating, and I'd love to see more of it.

Will said...

Excellent, thanks for the introduction to Ward.

Can't wait for the Walser post you hinted at!

JRSM said...

Thank you. The Walser post is coming--it's just that I've got a few days off work, and I've currently left the folder of Walser cover images on my work PC, rather than emailing it home to myself. Soon!

Will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will said...

I stumbled upon Ward's Beowulf this weekend, and of course I had to post his incredible illustrations immediately.

Thanks again for the intro. Now I need to pick up the rest of those Dover graphic novels.

JRSM said...

I'll link to your post in this one, Will: they're amazing pictures.

Marc said...

Related publication to the Graphic Witness collection is Wordless Books from Abrams, edited by Berona. Covers a few more artists, though without complete book reproductions: more of a sampler, but nicely produced.

JRSM said...

Right, 'Wordless Books' is on the to-buy list! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Craig D. said...

Speaking of Frankenstein and Beowulf, it's difficult to find good covers for those, since publishers apparently believe that it's against the law for classic literature to have good cover artwork. The cover of the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf, for example, is a total bore:


There's a recent Signet paperback, however, that has a good cover:


As for Frankenstein, Penguin Classics recently knocked it out of the park with a great cover by Daniel Clowes. Here's a link to a blog article about it with pictures included:


JRSM said...

I love that Clowes cover--I had to upgrade to it, since it made my old edition look like crap. But I'd never seen that Beowulf cover, and I really like it. I wonder who it's by?

Craig D. said...

I own a copy, and while there's no artist credited on the copyright page, the back cover says, "Cover art by HAVOC Media Design." Searching their website, all I found was this page with a larger image of the cover:


Beowulf himself in that artwork reminds me a bit of the style that Frank Miller has been using ever since he lost his sanity, only more disciplined. I think it's an amazingly good cover for a $5 paperback.

My current Frankenstein paperback has this cover:


Nothing great, nothing terrible. It conforms perfectly to the "classic literature cannot have interesting cover art" rule. Here's the cover I had years ago, from TOR Books:


Perhaps it's due to nostalgia, but I still like that one. I also liked their cover for Dracula: