The First Graphic Novel - 1783
'Lenardo and Blandine' by Joseph Franz von Goez

(pronounced 'yozeff frunts fon goats/guts')

(translation by Andy Bleck, Nov. 2007)

Just after the birth of the United States and before the French revolution, the human race started out on two interesting journeys. One was to leave the humdrum two-dimensional flatness of mother earth and take the first steps to conquer space (Brothers Montgolfier's first free flight of a hot air balloon with passengers, 21.11.1783). Another journey, of the same year, was for people on paper to escape, not the flatness of paper, but the confinement of existing on a single image, the confinement of time. In a way it was yet another journey of space exploration, the space beyond the picture frame.

The two events may not be entirely unrelated. Both are a direct expression of the 18th century curiosity to know about, understand and rationally categorize knowable aspects of life, similar to Samuel Johnson's dictionary (1747-1754) or Diderot's encyclopedia (1750-1784). Visualising a story, or as in Goez's case a person in distress, not via one or a few representative depictions, but with a seemingly unnessecary generosity or overabundance of obsessive variation, belongs to a modern sensibiliy, a thirst for both sensual and material information.

Joseph Franz Freiherr von Goez, was born 28.2.1754 in Hermannstadt (Siebenbürgen), and died 16.9.1815 in Regensburg. Until 1779 Goez was working as a lawyer in Vienna. There he became a portrait painter. From 1779-1783 he lived in Munich, where he wrote and directed the muscial drama 'Lenardo und Blandine' (musical score by P.Winter) after Bürger's ballad, which itself was greatly inspired by a story from Boccaccio's Decamerone (fourth book, first story - Count Tancredo of Salerno). The success of this performance inspired him to create the sequence 'Attempt of a numerous sequence of passionate Designs for sentimental friends of art and theatre' (during a long stay in Augsburg). From 1785-1791 he was back in Munich, and 1791-1815 in Regensburg. - Because of his picture sequence, he became known by his contemporaries as 'the German Hogarth'.

Lenardo and Blandine - A melodrama after Bürger in 160 passionate designs.
Invented and etched in copper by J.F.von Götz 1783

The Duke, lead by the Prince, appears at the door.

He want to be sure of the deed and listens.

Arroused in pain and anger, he tries to enter.

Overcome by pain and anger, he sinks to earth.

After having recovered, he tries to get a grip on himself.

One can hear the lovers whispering.

Blandine: Oh Darling, beloved, stay a while, stay!

Lenardo: Let me go, let me go heavenly creature, my soul is yours!

God, if only I wouldn't have to go.

Blandine: My husband! Can't you see my eyes shining in the moonlight?

Don't you feel my yearning and love?

Lenardo: Oh woe! Fear is overtaking me!

If the King, oh if he would find out!

Blandine: (Ahndung = retribution) Heaven, you received our true vows.

Oh, how it is beating there!

God, I cannot let go of you.

You don't want to leave, beloved?
Lenardo: Princess, my heart and soul are yours, they should never be parted from you, but I must.

Listen to the sound, the swallow announces the morning!
Blandine: No no, those are just the love-warbling nightingales.

See how the mountain ranges are turning red.

This look!

And this touch!

God is our witness! True, unbreakable love!

Once more now close to my breast.

Good bye. ..! Adieu!

Oh woe, how your heart in beating!

Sleep sweet! Sleep well!

They try to separate.

They separate.

They open up their arms once more.

And rush back, beast to breast.

(Lenardo is filled with fear, after a few palpitations of his shaken heart.)

King: Die, scoundrel.
Lenardo: God, have pity!

(Blandine on her night bed, fighting with heavy dreams.)

Lenardo, where are you!

Come, come, with your love.

And chase away the terrors of the night.

Oh, the night was cruel.

More cruel than the long daytime yesterday, when I didn't see my husband.

My eyes were searching everywhere.

And none was met by yours.

Where did you hide on that first blessed morning after our wedding?

Oh, how often have the first rays of sunshine lightened upon you like someone transfigured.

When you were galloping near, hill after hill

so happy, so beautifully rustic among the dark green shadows preceding you.

The rows of bower arches.

And all the fruit trees blinking through.

And reaching the orange blossoms under my window, you refresh and revive the dear fruits.

And with your eyes looking up...!

Oh, the joy of life, how it has taken hold of my heart with those blissful looks.

What solace the rising sun to my lingering lovesick yearning.

It pushed away crowns and treasures...

... and bid you come.

Soon, soon it's midnight.

Beautiful as Lenardo.

But, how you wither?

Come back to live on these breasts.

Still he hasn't come, and it is so close to the appointed hour.

Oh, how terribly gloomy.

Not one little comforting star on all the sky.

And how the wind is rushing in stifling stormclouds.

All the landscape as if dead.

Croaking toads instead of nightingales.

And my beloved still not here!

From afar she hears a churchtower strike 12 midnight.

God, the last stroke over, and you're still not in my arms.

And night getting worse and worse.

The garden like a churchyard!

Don't I hear a death knell?

Whoever you are, poor fellow! It's a dying hour for you. To me as well, it almost seems.

Husband, husband! Can't you hear my fearful calling?

Ever since my mother's death no night has been like this.

God, there's fire in the sky.

From afar the thunder follows.

Dead and destruction above him!

Dismay is gripping me.

God save my husband.
I want to search for him, must find him.

A man covered by gauze brings a bowl on which lies a blooody, broken ring.

Trembling she reaches for it.

And with a cry: Blood - she let's it fall on the table.

A second man has brought a sealed urn.

The third brings a sealed letter.

After having broken the seal..

She reads in a broken voice: The most depraved of your kind, marry again and follow the damned one.

Overtaken by fright, she pauses.

Now she reads on:
He is off to eternity, and as a souvenir sends you his heart.

After emitting these last words with a terrified cry..

she jumps up..

..breaks down and looses conscience.

Repeatedly she tries to get up, and looks around her with wild gestures.
Morning already, and so much light and jubilation all around her..

My marriage day..


But look, the long row of black men over there - and the gently mourning youth in their midst.

Oh! He is dripping of blood!

Stop! Stop!

I want to heal his wounds with my lips!

What a fool I am, they are the wedding guests, my bridegroom amongst them.

Mytle crowns are hanging from his silky hair.

Quiet, they're coming..

Closer! closer!

Surrounded by snakes you walk, pale and gruesome!

And you glide in clouds like an angel.

Oh come, come down here to me!

I cannot reach you, gliding up!

And the floor is sinking.

Here are unfathomable crevices!

And mounds of corpses underneath me!

There, whole rows of drawn swords towards us!

And the souls of the slain move towards heaven, singing.

Ah! My bridal jewels!

Yes, the ring belongs surely on my finger.

But you arke bloody and bloken.

Oh! All this indicates joy!

There too is the marriage goblet filled with blood!

Oh woe! Oh woe!

She is sinking, dazed..

..down to the urn.

There is my heart!

Oh, Why have you torn it out of me?

And here it is bleeding and rotting!

(And around me it is emptied)

But no, how strange? Here it is beating.

And here it is beating too!

Exactly, it's beating as one!

She stands up and moves as if about to talk..

..stands a while, oblivious to her thoughts, with downcast eyes..

..cries an aching 'Oh' heavenward..

..and is overcome by tears..

Now she covers the urn with her face and hair..

..and on her lap is pressing it hurtfully to her chest.

..holds it towards heaven and wants to smile..

..but suddenly sinks to earth..

.. and floods the urn with her tears.

Bewildered, with weakening senses, she moves closer to the seat..

..but keeps sinking next to it.

Dance for my grave, you kings, and ladies and gentlemen!

You're smiling contemptously - you don't want to?

Go away, noble riff-raff, go far away..

My bridegroom is he, I am his bride

His wife before heaven and earth!

My handsome love is full of high and sobre courage, look at him!

Listen to him mocking your airs and graces!

But to me he is waving kindly:

I want to .. I'll come ..pull me up!

We are betrothed for eternity!

Just my bridal jewels to take with me.

Help me, help me.. it is crushing me.

Lenardo you are

Your wife

I come

She's lying stricken, and dies.

King: My child! My child!

Thoughtless Father!


You were Adviser!

Upon you the curse of all sin!

And of the unhappy girl's death!

His downcast eyes espy the urn;

He seizes it, and in an excess of pain is wringing it heavenwards.