Research Task: ‘Silent Comics’

For my research task, I have been asked to research two books from two ‘silent’ comic creators. I looked through the list and Googled each creator first and looked at which art style I liked the most.

I decided on researching the following two creators:

Milt Gross – ‘He Done Her Wrong’ – (1930)

Shaun Tan – ‘The Arrival’ – (2006)

Milt Gross – ‘He Done Her Wrong’ – (1930)

Milt Gross, born March 4, 1895, died November 29, 1953 was an American cartoonist and animator. His ‘He Did Her Wrong’ is a wordless graphic novel created in 1930. It consists of 300 pages of panels, some of which escape the outline of the panel and spill out over the page. The medium seems to be ink, a well-known medium of that era for comics. His comics include Yiddish-inflected English dialogue, as shown below:

I find reading the above really fun and you can give the characters an accent whilst saying it back to yourself in your head.

Unfortunately, the humour in the comic is mildly racist/sexist but this is ‘the norm’ for comedy ‘back then’ in the ’30s.

Interestingly Milt originated the non-sequitur “Banana Oil!” as a phrase deflating pomposity and posing. It means ‘Nonsense’ or ‘Gibberish’… or in more recent times… ‘Bullsh*t.

A more recent use of ‘Banana Oil’ can be heard in Netflix’s ‘The Cuphead Show’. The show was inspired by the videogame ‘Cuphead’ which was inspired by 1930s cartoons… “We’ve gone full circle” 🙂

My Mindmap:

Shaun Tan – ‘The Arrival’ – (2006)

Shaun Tan was born in 1973, he is an Australian artist, writer, and filmmaker. His ‘The Arrival’ is a wordless graphic novel created in 2006. It consists of 128 pages of small, medium and large panels as well as full-page artwork. His work is very detailed and has no colour. The medium he uses is pencel/graphite.

The graphic novel is based on the theme of leaving home and being on a journey. I find it quite interesting how the theme relates to the problems and pressures of migration and migrants coming into England in recent news. This novel could relate to the migrants POV or issues with uprooting and travelling from their home.

My mindmap:


Both artists are on such different sides of the spectrum art style-wise and personally but they have both produced wordless graphic novels. I enjoyed researching both of these artists and their work, I find it interesting how Shaun’s style is so detailed and well-developed in comparison to Milt Gross’ extremely abstract and fluid style. From researching Shaun Tan’s ‘The Arrival’ I will be purchasing a copy of it as I am so impressed with his work.


Banana Oil –

Milt Gross Research –

The Arrival – Photos of the book –

Shaun Tann Research –

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