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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Southern Cross - a woodcut novel

In early 1951 artist Laurence Hyde showed his proposed woodcut novel Southern Cross to several New York publishers and they all passed on the project. "We don't publish picture books for adults" was the most common refrain given.
Later that year Southern Cross was published in a limited edition of 1,000 copies by Ward Ritchie Press. Jump ahead 56 years and now Drawn & Quarterly is publishing a facsimile edition of the 1951 printing, complete with the original introduction by Rockwell Kent and with an added forward by woodcut novel historian David Berona.
Southern Cross came about as a result of Hyde's outrage at the United States' testing of atomic bombs in the Bikini Atoll and here he creates a narrative, told in single-page woodblock drawings, of the destruction of the islands and its inhabitants. It's a powerful political and artistic document. Look for it in stores in early October.

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