I’ve been reviewing comics for over 17 years here now, and do you know why I’ve never reviewed a Jim Woodring book, despite the fact that he’s long been one of my top 5 favorite comic artists? Because I never knew how I could do one of his books justice. Well, I’m here today to tell you that… I still haven’t solved that problem. I don’t think it is possible to say something revelatory about his work, because it so obviously speaks for itself, and it so obviously speaks in its own, unique language. I’m mostly doing this to tell people who stopped reading Jim’s work in the mid 00’s, when he wasn’t putting out much if any new material, that there are now several books of his that you could get. Congress of Animals, Fran, Weathercraft, they’re all probably new since the last time you checked. If you’re completely new to the world of Jim Woodring and are wondering if you should jump in with Poochytown, well, no. I mean, you could; every Frank story (oh, newbies, that’s what this is, a story about Frank) could be the first or last Frank story in the chronology. But no, if you’re looking to dive into the Frank mythos, start with the giant hardcover “The Frank Book.” The story this time around deals with a wealthy… man? Thing? It doesn’t seem to have a face. Anyway, this creature is in a balloon, whiling his day away. Meanwhile, the man in the moon (on the ground) is annoyed that the balloon casts a brief shadow over him, which causes the creature in the balloon to stick him tongue out at him. He only really has the tongue, other than that he’s quite faceless. Anyway, the moon man on the ground throws a rock at the balloon, causing it to start sinking rapidly. To help his situation, he starts throwing his goods overboard, desperate to avoid a crash. It’s at this moment that we see Frank, as he’s been roused from his home due to the commotion. Frank and his two pals rummage through the debris, eventually finding a large… tuba? Frank and one friend are unable to get the tuba to do much, but his other friend creates an entirely new floating city, full of offshoots of the creature that made it. Sadly, the two of them drift away in the floating city, leaving Frank very much bereft and desperate to find his friends again. I just read through that description again and yep, that’s accurate. The rest of the comic involves that search, finding an unexpected ally, and a revelation about how Frank heals himself from injuries. Of all the silent comics in all the world, none of them take longer for me to read then a new Frank book. Partially it’s just because I want to savor it, granted, but I’d defy any of you to look at any one of his two page spreads and then spend less than a couple of minutes gaping at it in awe. There’s nobody out there like Jim Woodring and there’s nothing out there like Frank, and you owe it to yourselves to thoroughly explore both. $19.99
I’ll give you a list of some of the names and you tell me if this is worth your while: Jim Woodring, Pat Moriarity, Robert Crumb, Rick Veitch, David Lasky, Eric Theriault, Jeremy Eaton, and Aleksander Zograf. Granted, there were a few names that I didn’t recognize at all, but there were all kinds of interesting dreams in here. Come on, tell me that you’re not wondering if Jim Woodring’s sleeping mind is as fascinating as his waking one. It’s an odd mix from all over the world and, as with any anthology, some things work and some things don’t, but what this has over the other anthologies is that everything is… unprotected, in a way. Sleeping is out most vulnerable state and everything listed in here is honest, even if some it’s kind of dull. Well worth a look, if only to see what these people dream about…
Jesus Delivers (with David Lasky)
It makes me sad to think that Jim Woodring is hardly doing anything with comics these days. I understand the reasoning, as there’s no money in it, but his comics were like nothing else in this world and it sucks to not see a new one every six months or so. This is an old mini (1996) about a missionary trying to convert a young boy, which is then followed by the parents trying to explain how things really are to the kid. Great stuff, as a rant about the evils of Christianity is always a welcome thing. And who knew that Jesus was in charge of the post office? A measly dollar is all this is, and if you’re like me and already have everything Jim Woodring has done, this is a welcome sight.