For over 20 years now, Jim Woodring has delighted, touched, and puzzled readers around the world with his lush, wordless tales of “Frank.”
Weathercraft is Woodring’s first full-length graphic novel set in this world — indeed, Woodring’s first graphic novel, period! — and it features the same hypnotically gorgeous linework and mystical iconography.
As it happens, Frank has only a brief supporting appearance in Weathercraft, which actually stars Manhog, Woodring’s pathetic, brutish everyman (or everyhog), who had previously made several appearances in “Frank” stories (as well as a stunning solo turn in the short story “Gentlemanhog”).
After enduring 32 pages of almost incomprehensible suffering, Manhog embarks upon a transformative journey and attains enlightenment. He wants to go to celestial realms but instead altruistically returns to the unifactor to undo a wrong he has inadvertently brought about: The transformation of the evil politician Whim into a mind-destroying plant-demon who distorts and enslaves Frank and his friends. The new and metaphysically expanded Manhog sets out for a final battle with Whim...
Weathercraft also co-stars Frank’s cast of beloved supporting characters, including Frank’s Faux Pa and the diminutive, mailbox-like Pupshaw and Pushpaw; it is both a fully independent story that is a great introduction to Woodring’s world, and a sublime addition to, and extension of, the Frank stories.
• Review: "When most people try to employ dream logic in their work they fail miserably but Jim [Woodring] is great at it. The closest thing to a peer he might have is David Lynch but even that’s a stretch. Jim Woodring is the only Jim Woodring and no one has done what he does except for him. ... There’s not much point in trying to sum up the story of [Weathercraft]. There’s no text, the art is beautiful, and you’re totally consumed by the world he’s created and you exist inside it while you’re reading it." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "You know who is awesome and holds more water than anyone in comics? Basil Wolverton, that’s who. I might have gone overboard there but Basil Wolverton is so fucking funny that it’s no laughing matter. ... This little hardcover [of The Culture Corner] is sweet. The left page of each spread contains the pencil sketch of every comic that it’s available for and even the sketches for comics that never got finished. It is rad as hell." – Nick Gazin, Vice (same link as above)
• Review: "Holy crap, I love [Ganges]. Huizenga has this amazing way of writing and drawing comics that hit me in the soul, either directly reflecting an experience I can relate to (having trouble falling asleep in #3) or a feeling (like missing the good old days of a group of awesome work friends). Plus, his art style is this amazing mix of surreal and everyday imagery that mimics the daily weirdness of being a creative, introspective person and also takes on the look of a classic comic strip (Glenn’s nose reminded me of Popeye for some reason)." – T.J. Deitsch, United Monkee (via Sean T. Collins)
• Review: "Opulent; florid; intermittently bizarre: Red Barry,Will Gould’s gangling, glowering, undercover cop, countered Chester (no relation) Gould’s grimly taciturn Dick Tracy with a ripely atmospheric, robustly theatrical, unflinchingly lurid theater, replete with run-on dialogues, soliloquies and, not infrequently, faces that appeared to be 'made up' in the pointed, dagger-like beards, eye patches, and whiskers that would earn a chuckle of recognition from George Jean Nathan (once-and-forever dean of American drama critics)." – Donald Phelps, The Comics Journal
• Plug: On his News and Head Lice blog Paul Hornschemeier says "if you're not yet reading anything and everything Tim Lane and Tim Hensley produce, you're missing out. Hensley's comics and posts are always a welcome addition to any day over at Blog Flume and Lane's ongoing strip, Belligerent Piano reminds of me of the baby produced from the time Chester Gould had a three-way with Alex Raymond and Spain Rodriguez. Who's the one with the womb? I'm not telling."
Online Commentary & Diversions — catching up from MoCCA weekend, with more catch-up tomorrow:
• Award: Congratulations to David Sandlin for receiving a 2010-2011 fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. "The fellowship lasts from September to May. Each fellow gets an office in the library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, full access to the library’s research collections, and a stipend, which last year was $60,000," reports Kate Taylor of The New York Times. Not too shabby!
• Review: "Few people alive today are old enough to remember World War I, and as it recedes into the past, the 'war to end all wars' becomes more abstract. But French cartoonist Jacques Tardi's graphic novel, It Was The War of the Trenches..., brings the Great War to life in all its mud- and blood-soaked misery. Without a trace of sentimentality, Tardi's richly detailed and grimly rendered vignettes depict the horror, illness, cruel manipulations, and stupidity of this giant black spot in human history." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
• Review: "Long-lost astronauts, homicidal bloggers, baseball legends and wayward skaters all find a home in John Pham’s captivating comic series Sublife. With only two issues on the street, Sublife has already established an achingly familiar universe in all of its disparate ongoing narratives. Deftly juggling the melancholy of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve with some Cormac McCarthy-inspired apocalyptic action and plenty of skillfully subdued deadpan humor, Pham proves himself a master of multifarious emotions and artist stylings." – We Love You So
• Review: "While I enjoyed Sakai's artwork in the first volume, this second trade collection is even stronger. ... I'm so glad I'm finally sitting down and reading this series, and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. Usagi Yojimbo is a great addition to the canon of samurai stories, and is definitely highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of wandering ronin or just good storytelling." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Culture Corner remains a curiosity in comic book history, rarely remembered, rarely seen, but Basil Wolverton’s status as an important figure in humor cartooning is unimpeachable. Thus, anybody wanting to understand the development of the medium and the evolution of comedy cartooning should pick up Culture Corner to see how Wolverton began the road to comic book legend. Most of the strips have never been seen by today’s readers, and the sheer number of unpublished penciled sketches makes this book a true rarity and a must-have." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "I can honestly say that the further we dive into the murky depths of Newave!, the better it gets. Hot on the heels of all the anarchic fun of the first thirty mini comics, come ten more that show, in various ways, a little extra sophistication in content or execution." – Avoid the Future continues their mini-reviews of the contents of Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s; this is from part 4, and I think we may have missed linking to part 2 and part 3
• Plug: At IdeaFixa, Claudio Yuge says that reading Love and Rockets "was one of the best things I ever did in life and I recommend it for anyone who likes comics and graphic arts in general." (translated from Portuguese)
• Commentary:Comic Book Galaxy's Christopher Allen & Alan David Doane comment on this year's Eisner nominees, of which we have several; there's too much for me to quote from here
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to Jim Woodring about Weathercraft: "In a lot of ways, Manhog is the most interesting character in the Unifactor. He has the most potential for change and the widest range of dramatic possibilities. Besides, it's fun to put him in awful circumstances and watch him suffer. There's something about a big fat guy screaming in terror that's just naturally funny. Oliver Hardy got a lot of mileage out of that formula."
• Interview: The Inkstuds radio programme talks with Mome contributor (and, now, kids-comics superstar) Eleanor Davis
• List: Look out, it's Tom Spurgeon's Best of 2009 list at The Comics Reporter. Fantagraphics category rankings are listed below, with complete lists and Tom's commentary to be found at the link above:
• Review: "Somehow, some way, Jamie Hernandez is getting better and better. ...Locas, the first gigantic hardcover compilation of Jamie’s 'Maggie and Hopey' stories, stands as one of the highlights of my life as a reader. Now, unbelievably, Locas II exceeds the original’s standard. ... In Locas II: Maggie, Hopey and Ray, he’s crafted perhaps his most universal work to date, a saga of three people who’ve left behind the postures of their youth to stumble, unsure and hesitant, across the landscape of their adult lives. It’s strange and scary, funny and sweet, confused and enlightening. Locas II is a master as the top of his game, and a true comic book classic." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "It is interesting to see the rapid evolution of the graphics and drawings [in Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938], a little reticent and schematic at first, but soon becoming highly detailed and expressive. Adventure prevailed in the stories, but there was room for humor, romance and tragedy." – Top Comics (translated from Portuguese)
• Review: "OK sure but trust me it's not for those who just want to look at dumbed down pictures and drool on themselves as anorexic telepathic women parade in wonder bras nor is this Babar's color by number. [The Portable] Frank is engaging on all levels and asks the reader to not just lose themselves but to participate fully and that's why this is my pick of the week!!" – Coast City Comics
• Plug: "This book is amazing and bat%$#* crazy. There are no words, just check it out of the library asap." – Cold Bullets
Our Free Comic Book Day offering this year, Weathercraft and Other Unusual Tales by Jim Woodring, is an absolute doozy! It features an excerpt of Jim's new graphic novel Weathercraft along with out-of-print and never-before-published "Frank" material, a centerfold of a previously unpublished Woodring charcoal drawing (like the ones in Seeing Things), and other surprises. It's an absolute must-have for any Woodring fan! Believe me — I've seen the proofs and I can't wait to get my hands on the final product.
At the FCBD website, you can read an interview with the comic's editor, our own Jason T. Miles, with more information about the whole shebang, and download an excerpt of the Weathercraft excerpt.
Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 1 this year, and you'll be able to find Weathercraft and Other Unusual Tales at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery and other participating comic shops across the land while supplies last. Be sure to check with your local shop to make sure they're getting copies.
Publishers Weekly presents a 6-page excerpt from Jim Woodring's new graphic novel Weathercraft today! Observe as a newly-enlightened Manhog explores the Unifactor and encounters a startlingly familiar face.
six 24-page b&w/color comic books with signed plate • $20.00
UPDATE: Sold Out!
It is with pride and pleasure that Fantagraphics Books presents the second "volume" of Jim, Jim Woodring's comix autojournal. Combining the best aspects of Woodring's now out-of-print Jim magazine (most of which is available in The Book of Jim) with his work in Tantalizing Stories, the new Jim was released on a regular quarterly basis in the deluxe part-color Eightball format. Woodring's work in Jim is derived primarily from his richly detailed and message-laden dreams and from bizarre events and observations which occur during his waking hours (which Jim calls his "other" life). With painstaking fidelity he recreates these experiences and impressions in comics, drawings, and text, drawing the reader into an eerily complete world that is both unprecedented and familiar. The second incarnation of Jim features Frank, Manhog, Pupshaw, Pushpaw, and Pulque in page after page of short and long stories, as well as the return of "Jimland Novelties," letters pages, and much more.
This special limited-edition pack includes all 6 issues of the series shrinkwrapped with a special plate signed by Jim Woodring.
• Review: "Ghost World feels like a really apt bit of social history to me now, rather than a piercing look at real life. I believe it, but I believe it happened, not that it happens, at least not quite this way, at the age shown here. But, what is timeless is the theme that crops up towards the end: the unsettling feeling one gets when contemplating the lurch into adulthood." – Christopher King, Timmy's House of Sprinkles
• Plugs: The bloggers at Comics And... Other Imaginary Tales comment on our offerings in the current issue of Previews, including Four Color Fear ("This will be awesome!"), Grotesque #4 ("This is a great story with great art and well worth the money"), and Wally Gropius ("The dichotomy between the clean and wholesome lines and the dirtyness of the story is what's pulling me in.")
• Profile: Christina Whiting of the Homer News reports on Jim Woodring's current residency at the Bunnell Street Arts Center: "The Bunnell gallery space has been transformed into an exhibition of Woodring's art and into a working studio. His work table is covered with pads of paper, bottles of ink, quill pens and unfinished drawings — basic tools of his trade. ... Throughout the month, Woodring also has been working on a 100-page graphic novel, which he plans to publish. The first 20 pages are currently displayed in the gallery exhibit area, and he is adding a new page to the wall every couple of days. 'I'll likely create ten new pages while I'm here,' Woodring said."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Alex Dueben talks to Ho Che Anderson about his new book Sand & Fury: "I’ve always been highly, highly influenced by movies, as much if not more so than comics. There were certainly comic book influences on S&F, like Richard Sala’s work and also Richard Corben whom I’m a big fan of, and even a little Jason Lutes though it’d be difficult to see. But it’s true that the majority of the influences were cinematic, particularly Dario Argento and David Lynch."