Ward's second novel, Madman's Drum, had a more involved plot developed with more intricate plates. Strong images again supported strong themes. Unlike God's Man, which was framed in a contemporary world, Madman's Drum is set in the early 1800's in a foreign land. The events and themes remain universal. Although the backdrop is exotic, the events will be familiar to anyone looking back at their own life.
"While the action of God's Man is set in modern times and moves against a background that, however excerpted and simplified, is recognizable as our contemporary world, Madman's Drum is set a hundred years or more ago and takes place in an obviously foreign country. But the things that happen to the central character, from boyhood through adolescence to the final crisis of his maturity, are not unique to a distant time and place. Given the modifications imposed by varying social systems, they can be encountered almost anywhere at any time. They are things that spring from universal human relationships- for example, between child and parent or man and wife- and can include the problems of those who seek solutions in running away, as well as those who take the shelter of the family unit too much for granted and so are quite unprepared to cope with the abrasive world outside.
I had earlier believed that every block should be conceived in the simplest terms possible, then cut with an absolute minimum of tool work. I had worked on the premise that every image should be developed only as far as was necessary to produce a comprehensible statement for mthat particular point in the visual sequence. Now, with those earlier miles behind me, it seemed reasonable to take a different approach to the actual cutting the blocks. In God's Man, except for the use of round and flat gravers to remove the white areas, all the rendering of figures and landscapes had been done with a single line tool. I Madman's Drum, by contrast, I sought to develop a wider range of tool work and utilized small round gravers to break up a large dark area with small jabs of the tool, thus achieving a variety both of tonal effect and textural quality. At the same time, I put more emphasis on decorative patterns in such things as dress material and the walls of interiors, which I hoped would not only result in richer and more varied impact from block to block but also help the reader identify recurring characters and backgrounds more readily as the story developed.
It was a matter of surprise to me that Madman's Drum, a more complicated story than God's Man, ended up with about twenty fewer engravings. It was published in this country in the fall of 1930 by Cape and Smith and simultaneously in England by Jonathon Cape, Ltd."
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