The Portable Frank
A TREE STUMP REVEALS the exact number of years it was alive by its woodrings. But when you look closely at a Jim Woodring cartoon, you are lost in the eternal present. In Frank, he has melded the Olden Days horrific with the modern innocuous. He consistently does this with a seamless line, tracing a parallel universe which keeps unfolding in new visual allegories, as perplexing as they are down-to-earth.
Like a woodring, his pen line is always concrete and simple. It circumscribes objects and landscapes with a Spartan clarity that reveals a deep appreciation of the natural environment. Even those minute details which he scribes are never blurred. It’s as if everything that occupies his panels--whether man, beast, object or landscape—is specific and alive--made out of the same cartoon atoms. An unwavering line combined with that deft use of two dimensional space in which Frank romps has a unique genetic signature—just as Pogo and Nancy do. This is pinnacle of cartoon vision, so rarely achieved. The lack of dialogue, too, is astounding. The silence challenges the reader to imbue the action with personal meeting.
His work is timeless, too, in the genuine response it evokes from earthlings of
all ages on all continents. It addition to provoking their laughter, he also nurtures
the sense of wonder, sparking delightful reveries. Should there be another Century,
Frank will still be around, like a mighty perennial.
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