Lynd Ward crafted these three gorgeous books in the 1930s, during that uncertain time when The Depression was still a fact of daily life, and when Fascism's rise in Europe started to enter public awareness.
The first of these stories, 1933's "Prelude to a Million Years," examines the social structures damaged by The Depression: muggers in the street, strikes and strikebreakers, and the fall of a woman that the central character seems to have cared for. Having forayed out of his studio and seen what the world had in it, the artist returns to that solitude - there's more, of course, but the experience of reading the wordless story demands that you see for yourself.
"Song Without Words" (from 1936) looks forward into the horrors of WWII. This nightmare captures all the fears that a woman facing (or considering) motherhood might have for her future child, the evils that other children in fact faced daily. The miracle seems to be that hope for the future remains at all.
"Vertigo," released in 1937, ends the set. This work consumes most of the book, far more than the other two stories combined. Length comes in part from an interweaving of three separate stories. It also comes frmo Ward's decision to break the action into smaller quanta, so that one episode requires more pages of telling. It echoes the Depression themes again, exposing more different manifestations of the human cost.
These stories stand out by any criterion, not least because of the personal meanings each readers fills in regarding that era of American history. They also cement Ward's place as a visual storyteller, one who bridges the worlds of fine art and today's comic novels. Then, each image also stands out as a work of woodcut in itself. There's so much to enjoy here that I recommend this to almost anyone, even those who think they don't like graphic novels.