Lynd Ward was the master of art in woodcuts, which he showcased in wordless stories that are lovingly collected here. These two handsome volumes are edited by Art Spiegelman, who also provides a lengthy introduction to ground Ward’s work in its proper place and time and to give the reader enough background on Ward to truly appreciate the strength and daring of these tales.
These two volumes presented together are gorgeous, and they rightfully pay respect to the legacy of Ward’s accomplishments. Spiegelman’s introduction is repeated in volume two (which is a slight shame; it would have been nice to get a new essay), and it’s a real treat to read his words: one artist relaying the importance of another and showing how his influence lives on. Spiegelman nicely describes the creation of each of the stories: Gods’ Man, Madman’s Drum, Wild Pilgrimage, Prelude to a Million Years, Song Without Words, and Vertigo. Even the titles draw you in—Ward didn’t use words in his stories, but he knew how to aptly and compellingly title them.
Ward was born in 1905, and he was a young artist when he composed these stories. They reflect an early 20th century and a timeless story of humanity all at the same time, and although there are just six stories in these two volumes, each woodcut is printed (as they should be) on its own page. The heft of the books gives apt weight to the stories.
Page numbers would have perhaps been nice, simply as a way to get easily to each story. But that aside, nothing diminishes the sheer breathtaking quality of these lovely images. These volumes are something special.
Reviewed by John Hogan on July 10, 2012