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You know what I hate to read? Words. IKEA understands. I may not know Phillips from flathead, but just this weekend I single-handedly assembled five pieces of furniture assisted only by the textless demonstrations of an androgynous cartoon outline. Author and illustrator Lynd Ward predates the Swedish superstore in perceiving the image’s expository potential. His wordless novels, printed from intricately carved wood blocks, present visual stories purposefully lacking text, leaving the brunt of interpretation duties to the viewer. Ward’s gritty style broke boundaries in the ’30s and ultimately birthed what would become the graphic novel. His themes, born of Depression-era living and exposure to the frightening political stirrings of pre-war Germany, address sophisticated issues of oppression and social peril with an accessibility that anticipated Maus. Ditch your current D&D match and polish up your best pocket protector to check out the show, on view from 8 a.m. to midnight (to Oct. 2, 2005; see City List for other dates) in the Charles Marvin Fairchild Gallery in Georgetown University’s Lauinger Library, 3700 O St.NW. Free. (202) 687-4328.