cover image Fran


Jim Woodring. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-60699-661-4

A cross between a bouncy Ub Iwerks animated cartoon and a fever dream, this new wordless adventure starring the anthropomorphic Frank and his pal Fran is both a prequel and a sequel to his previous Congress of the Animals, and it continues the impressive evolution of Frank’s saga from Woodring’s earlier works. Frank and Fran’s day out veers dramatically from fantasy to nightmare in a rich vein of surrealistic pantomime. Featuring Frank’s encounters with outlandish denizens of his world (both cute and horrifying), the book gives Woodring room to stretch out sequences and include detailed two-page spreads, which emphasize his exceptional pen skills, showing unadorned, rubbery, big-footed, funny animals, set against a backdrop of fine-lined whimsical weirdness. Woodring’s creation of the odd but internally consistent physical laws of his world is brilliant. Frank and Fran travel through landscapes that personify their own loneliness, regret, fear, forgiveness, and awe, creating a chimerical puzzle box of a story. (Nov.)