Well, I was curious as to see what the guy actually looked like, so, I went out on the web in search of a picture of old man Ward. Unfortunately, finding a picture of him is apparently about as rare as finding words in his woodcut novels… however, I did manage to find one real life photo when he was old and saggy-> http://www.bcn.net/~mmccurdy/penmaen.htm (scroll down to the bottom) he is also with Allen Ginsberg.
I also saw what is apparently a self portrait of himself, done in 1927.
After reading Gods’ Man, I wanted to see who was the man behind such haunting images, and, I wasn’t disappointed.
In this article, the author compares novels such as Gods’ Man to silent movies. He discusses other artists besides Lynd Ward and their impact. An insightful idea I learned about in this article, something I didn’t really think of until now, is that silent novels like Gods’ Man are not affected by a language barrier. No matter what language they speak, any person can pick up Ward’s visual narrative and generate some kind of meaning or theme. Lanier also points out that Gods’ Man was initially being released during the stock market crash of 1929, yet sales were doing well. Perhaps, this universal understanding of the novel helped create a larger audience. It seems silent novels have that advantage over books that are originally released in only one language.
A short biography on Lynd Ward (found here) reveals a bit about the artist’s life**. I found it’s most fascinating aspect to be the degree than Lynd Ward was influenced by his instructors. I searched for images of his teacher’s artwork, as well as the work of the other two men mentioned. I assumed that most of these wood carvings would be similar due to the nature of the medium (hard; unforgiving), and the fact that it doesn’t seem to be a very popular form of art, but was rather shocked to see the differences in their work. The style “Gods’ Man” is etched in seems to be most influenced by his primary instructor, Hans Alexander Mueller, almost mimicking his hard, thin lines.
** Assuming it isn’t entirely fictional. (Its on the internet, it must be true.)
Here is a story I found on Lynd Ward’s full works being printed into a a two volume set by The Library of America. I found it interesting that The Library of America is publishing it because on their website it says that they’re about the need to preserve the nation’s cultural heritage by publishing America’s best and most significant writing in authoritative editions is as strong as ever. I guess they deem Lynd Ward as influential and important as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, and mark Twain. The relevance of this article is that since we’re reading Ward’s book God’s Man I thought it was interesting that they were printing his life work into a two volume set.
Lynd Ward’s Gods’ Man made me consider the reading experience in a new way. Instead of the continuous, forward motion I was used to while reading literature, I found myself flipping back, re-reading, and dwelling longer on a given page while skipping quickly through others. I became hyper-aware of how often I was flipping the pages and how I was constructing a story out of the images presented to me. The story, it seemed, came out of the image’s position between the previous and next image. The context created the story. When reading books that aren’t graphic novels, I read the page, processed the information and moved on to the next one. Then, repeated as necessary. The story in text-based novels was continuous and unconcerned with page sequence. The pages were more of a mode of transport for the story rather than a storytelling technique, as it was with Gods’ Man. My multi-directional experience with reading Gods’ Man made this previous method of reading seem laborious and menial in contrast.
The reading from Scott McCloud’s book also talked about the unique experience of reading graphic novels. His discussion of closure and the “staccato rhythm of unconnected moments” applies to the reading of Gods’ Man as well, but to a larger degree. Where McCloud was discussing how the gutter between panels creates a jarring movement in the story, in Gods’ Man, this effect is multiplied because the space expands from a few centimeters to an entire page. The space is also coupled with the action of turning the page, so the revelation of the story is even more broken. However, as McCloud notes, this dynamic allowed the reader to become a collaborator, which was an entirely pleasurable experience for me.
It was interesting to me how the characters were represented using expressionism, like what was discussed in chapter 5 of the McCloud reading. The images were surreal, and lacked the perfect real world representation of form and function of the impressionistic era. This departure from realism still left me with a clear sense of what was going on, and perhaps would probably seem clearer to me than an impressionist approach.
Expressionism allows the bad guys to instantly be seen as malevolent without the use of words. Overly embellished featured of certain characters effectively made some of them look evil or untrustworthy without having to tell me that with words. Because people’s looks rarely reflect their true nature, and an impressionistic approach may have made it difficult to portray one’s inner evil without the assistance of written text.
I think God’s Man was the first time that I had ever tried to read something with no words. Quite frankly, I was pretty confused for the first couple chapters and had to go back and reread it a few times to get the most out of the work. I found myself trying to read the scrolls with “words” on them to get a better idea of what was going on, but then realized that they were merely representations of words rather than written text. While this was a pretty cool novel, I’m pretty sure that I will not be referencing anything from this book for the tracing project later in this semester.
God’s Man was interesting to read because of its lack of words. It really asked the question that if there are no words, is it still reading a comic or just a series of connecting pictures that come together in a chronological order. Also the fact that there were no words forces the reader to connect the story through each frame while at the same time identifying the characters and the settings which the pictures do a nice job of showing. This was nice to read as a companion to the McCloud Chapter 4 where he discusses the issue of time and how comics can portray time. It helped to read God’s Man after because it gave me a sense of how the reader tries to fill in the space between the frames while at the same time connecting the story. also the fact that it was a It While the story is divided into parts, there is no clear beginning which makes the reading a little more challenging while at the same time ties themes well because it allows for an open start where the reader can interpret or play into their own views of the back story. The style of the artwork is compelling because it fits with the themes of the story and keeps the characters well defined through their portrayals and helps to show their basic characteristics and the relation to the protagonist. The characters that were “evil” were more distinctive in their facial features and were generally portrayed as darker whereas the protagonist and the “good” characters were portrayed with softer features and were generally seen as having more white which conveyed their “goodness” qualities.
Welcome to the class blog for ENGL 300 (Spring 2011), at George Mason University. This site will be an essential component of the course…as you will soon discover.
If you are a student in ENGL 300, you can go ahead and register for the blog. You may also browse the class guidelines and calendar. And I’ll see you at noon on Tuesday, January 25, in 215G Innovation Hall!