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Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels Hardcover – May 1, 2008


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Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels + Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels by Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Giacomo Patri and Laurence Hyde + Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Reprint edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810994690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810994690
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #944,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David A. Beronä is a member of the visiting faculty for the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. A recognized scholar on woodcut novels and wordless books, Beronä is also the library director at Plymouth State University, New Hampshire and a reviewer and contributor to International Journal of Comic Art, Print Quarterly, and Library Journal. He lives in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

Peter Kuper is an accomplished illustrator whose work appears regularly in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, and MAD Magazine.






More About the Author

David A. Beronä is a woodcut-novel historian, author of Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels (2008) and a 2009 Harvey Awards nominee. He is the Dean of the Library and Academic Support Services at Plymouth State University, New Hampshire, and a member of the visiting faculty at the Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, Vermont.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
The images included are crisp and beautiful.
Austin Kleon
If you're looking for full stories I recommend you to google the authors to choose the ones you like most and then buy their work.
Paulo Waisberg
Many have looked forward to David Beronä's book for a long time and there is no disappointment in any way, shape or form!
Kurt Brian Webb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Brian Webb on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels by the prolific writer David Beronä is a gem filled with informative serious content for the novice and well seasoned in the woodcut novel genre. This beautiful book is a visual treat to read with images around every turn of a page. In Beronä's past articles on the topic and now in this book, it is always interesting to read his interpretation on these masterful wordless books. Many familiar with this genre have seen the illustrations from his book, however there is freshness in seeing these pictures in this new context. Increasing the print size on some of the pages is a nice touch and lets the viewer see things in the prints that they more than likely have missed in the past. Numbered specific references in the text allow the reader to be deeply taken into important parts of the books described in separate chapters. The conclusion convincingly points to the role these wordless masterpieces have shaped current graphic novels. Having scans of dust jackets from many of the original editions in the ending section is a very exceptional way to end the book. Many have looked forward to David Beronä's book for a long time and there is no disappointment in any way, shape or form! It has it all!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Austin Kleon on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
David Berona has been studying wordless books for 20 years, but only in the past couple of years has the "graphic novel boom" of the industry allowed him to publish his research. In this handsome book he presents an introduction and sampler of the form's greatest works and artists in a clear, useful, and unpretentious manner. The images included are crisp and beautiful. This is a must-purchase for any fan of comics or narrative art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karl Janssen on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the early 20th century, a few innovative artists created visionary pictorial novels composed entirely of illustrations. The undisputed masters of the genre were the Belgian woodcut artist Frans Masereel and the American wood engraver Lynd Ward. These two artists, and a small group of followers inspired by their work, created wordless narratives of exceptional artistic and literary quality, which served as the precursors to the graphic novel as we know it today. In this 2008 study of the subject, David A. Beronä examines the work of eleven artists whose books were published from 1918 to 1951. In recent years, no other scholar has done as much to draw attention to and bring deserved respect to these influential works of art than Beronä. If anyone is qualified to write the definitive history of this art form, it's him. Unfortunately, this isn't it.

This book contains less than 45 pages of text. Chapter one, entitled "Historical Background," is only two and a half pages long. Each artist gets about two paragraphs of biographical information, with the exception of Masereel and Ward, who maybe get a page each. 90 percent of the text consists of Beronä summarizing the plots of the books, complete with spoilers. For each work, Beronä's synopsis is supported by roughly ten percent of each book's illustrations, from which he makes points about the artist's technique and choice of imagery. There are a few cases where he makes some insightful comments in regard to historical context, but mostly he's not telling you anything you wouldn't figure out from looking at the original works themselves.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paulo Waisberg on September 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a list of several wordless books from the first half of the twentieth century. It gives some historical background and then lists about a dozen of the most influential authors and their most important work.

I felt odd that you have a kind of long description of their wordless books and few selected images of each...I was looking for lots of drawings and a lot less text so I am a bit disappointed, also the selection is very heterogeneous in quality.

On the good side, it is a beautiful hard-cover book with good satin paper and the reproductions are very well done. If you're looking for full stories I recommend you to google the authors to choose the ones you like most and then buy their work. You can find most of the reprints here at Amazon, what makes this book a bit redundant and pointless.
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