THREE WORDLESS GRAPHIC NOVELS:
WRITTEN IN WOOD, is an anthology of works by renowned woodcut artist George A. Walker, containing three contemporary wordless novels:
The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson: A Cold Case from 1917, which explores the death of the iconic Canadian artist who went missing in the summer of 1917
Book of Hours: A 9/11 story which tells the mundane yet meaningful way in which the people in the World Trade Center spent their last hours before the tragic events of 9/11
Conrad Black: The Rise and Fall of a Media Baron which relates a story of a famous — and notorious — media baron
Without using a word, Walker presents three narratives that share a common theme: how a single event can change a culture. The works in this anthology cross all language and social barriers. Each wordless narrative explores its subject in a series of wood engravings that allow the reader to experience the reality of the event in a fresh and vivid way and to form an opinion based on seeing what happened rather than reading about what happened. Walker writes in the Preface, "When I work, I imagine my engravings as a form of writing. Engravings are like letterforms in that they communicate the innate power that resides in words. Yet the sequence of images transcends the grammatical boundaries of the spoken word. Similar to a silent film or a comic strip, pictures tell us stories."
The three narratives in this anthology have a common thread. They are wordless, but they are also about loss and reawakening. The loss of Tom Thomson was tragic for his friends and family, but his unique approach to the Canadian landscape inspired a generation of artists. The tragic events of 9/11 turned the West’s attention to the complex interconnections among our sense of security, the infallibility of American power and our understanding of the dogma of religious fundamentalism. The story of Conrad Black is about loss and redemption. Black, a member of the one percent of society who has both wealth and power, falls from his heights and discovers an America that he has never seen before. These themes constitute the concept that forms the backbone of these narratives. This book illustrates how the image is a form of text and that our relationship to the narrative is more complex than the surface of the language that we may write in.
“In our new century, the woodcut novel has enjoyed an unexpected revival, thanks almost entirely to the Canadian printmaker George Walker, who has emerged not only as a master of the form, but also as an influential mentor of a new generation of woodcut artists.” — The Globe and Mail
“The delicacy and intelligence of George Walker’s printmaking seems to have come to us from a bygone age. Fortunately, we have George with us now.” — Neil Gaiman
George A. Walker holds an MA in Communication and Culture from Ryerson and York universities. He was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in recognition of his achievements in Canadian Book Arts. As an associate professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, he teaches book-related arts in the printmaking program. He is the author of the popular how-to book, The Woodcut Artists’ Handbook (Firefly 2005), now in its second edition, and is recognized for his art history book on wordless novels, Graphic Witness (Firefly 2007). Since 1984, his letterpress-printed artists’ books have been collected internationally by institutions such as the Morgan Library & Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the University of Toronto and Princeton University.
Tom Smart, who wrote the introductory essay, is the author of numerous books and has worked in galleries, museums and institutions across Canada and the United States, including the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Frick Art and Historical Center.