Review: Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels

Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels by David A. Beronä
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beronä explores the world of wordless books from the early and mid-20th century. These wood-cut novels (and other types of wordless visual stories) were a phenomenon within storytelling that seemed to operate in parallel to art movements and the development of comics.  Beronä's effort here is to provide a preliminary history of their emergence and the most well-know creators such as Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Otto Nuckel, Giacomo Patri and Laurence Hyde. The book does not necessarily have a critical through the line but sits more as an introductory exploration into the creators and the works. Besides the introduction and the conclusion, each chapter explores a particular creator and some of their works. The essays are brief biographies of the authors and some detail and complexity about the nature of the works being discussed.  Much of the book is dedicated to excerpts (individual scenes or sequences) from the very wordless novels being discussed to give the reader a stronger what the weight and experience of these books.  The book proves a solid introduction that will get readers to both explore some of the wordless novels themselves as well as branch into other forms of visual storytelling in print.

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