The best woodcut graphic novels

George A. Walker Author Of Graphic Witness: Five Wordless Graphic Novels
By George A. Walker

Who am I?

I am a printmaker and book artist and author who is interested in visual narratives. I wrote a book about how to make woodcuts, linocut and engravings titled The Woodcut Artists’ Handbook. My hand-printed limited edition books and art can be found in many collections from the Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York City. I am an Associate Professor of book arts and printmaking at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada.


I edited...

Graphic Witness: Five Wordless Graphic Novels

By Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Laurence Hyde, Giacomo Patri, Erich Glas

Book cover of Graphic Witness: Five Wordless Graphic Novels

What is the book about?

Graphic Witness features rare wordless novels by five great twentieth-century woodcut artists from Europe and North America. The stories they tell reflect the political and social issues of their times as well as the broader issues that are still relevant today. This newly expanded edition of Graphic Witness, which features an afterword by cartoonist Seth, will appeal to readers interested in social issues, printmaking, art history, and contemporary culture.

The books I picked & why

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Die Idee 83 Holzschnitte

By Frans Masereel,

Book cover of Die Idee 83 Holzschnitte

Why this book?

I think Die Idee is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the power of the graphic narrative as an extension of the written word. The painter and graphic artist Frans Masereel was born in the Belgian Blankenberghe in 1889. He studied art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he learned to make wood engravings. His first wordless graphic novel was made in 1918 titled Images de la Passion d’un Homme (The Passion of a Man). The success of this book and those that followed influenced three generations of artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers all over the world.


Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels

By David A. Beronä,

Book cover of Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels

Why this book?

David Beronä was a friend and fellow collector whose interest in this form of graphic storytelling was our shared passion. In his book Beronä examines the history of and art of pioneers of this form of narrative. The works of Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Otto Nückel, William Gropper, Milt Gross, Giacomo Patri Laurence Hyde, and lesser known artists like Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová and István Szegedi Szüts. The woodcut images in these works are powerful and as relevant today as they were when they were first produced.


Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts

By Lynd Ward,

Book cover of Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts

Why this book?

I first met Art Spiegelman in a show we were in together at the Morgan Library and Museum in 2014. We became fast friends with our shared love of the work of Ward and Masereel (examples of their work were in the same exhibition) we have since sent each other copies of books we thought the other would enjoy. I recommend Art’s collection of the six wordless novels of Frans Masereel as a great way to get copies of these rare books in a nicely designed box set with an excellent introductory essay by Art titled "Reading Pictures."


Destin

By Otto Nückel,

Book cover of Destin

Why this book?

This is a new edition of Otto Nückel’s wordless novel that was originally published in 1930 with the title Destiny by Farrar & Rinehart. Although this edition is in French with an introduction by Seth Tobocman and an afterword by yours truly, it is a nicely produced hardcover with new information about the life of this mysterious German artist. I would be happy to provide an English translation of my postface for anyone who wishes to email me a request. The book is very readable and demonstrates Nückel’s unique skill of engraving a very poignant visual narrative (on lead blocks).


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