Lynd Ward – master of the wordless novel



Lynd Ward’s sinister wood engravings for Madman’s Drum, 1930

Lynd Ward produced wordless graphic novels in the 1920s and 1930s, creating stories made up entirely of illustrations.  Although the genre was pioneered by Frans Masereel, Ward is perhaps the most influential of the early wordless novelists.  Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Allen Ginsberg and many others have cited him as an inspiration in their own work.

Ward worked primarily in wood engraving, which allowed for a refined line and detail.  These images are from Madman’s Drum, the story of a slave trader, an African drum, and a devastating family curse.

Ward, Lynd, 1905-1985.  Madman’s drum, a novel in woodcuts by Lynd Ward. New York, J. Cape, H. Smith [c1930]. MERLIN catalog record

– Kelli Hansen