A poor, struggling artist makes a deal with a mysterious, masked stranger. The stranger gives the artist an ancient paintbrush used by the greatest painters of the past. All he has to do is give the stranger his previous art & sign a contract. After this meeting, the artist's luck changes when he moves to a big metropolis, where he starts to gain attention because of his artistic depiction of the city's monumental buildings. The artist is quickly seduced by his new upper-class status, but quickly realizes that fame & fortune is abusive. He escapes back to nature in order to find the innocence that he lost in his craft & himself, but it may be too late.
Lynd Ward's Gods' Man is the first of six "wordless novels" he created. Made in 1929, Ward's novels, along with the novels of Franz Masereel & Otto Nuckel, are thought to be some of the earliest graphic novels, despite Ward reporting that he never read comics. The novels are made out of wood engravings & Ward's woodcuts are dramatic, featuring a combination of Art Deco & Expressionism. Ward's greatest strength is creating rays of light with these woodcuts that not only radiate through the darkness of the clouds but also radiate off the pages, despite being stark black & white images. Gods' Man is a breathtaking piece of work. Truly a masterpiece in a class & medium of only a few.
Check out Judith Klau's analysis of the book here.