cover image Jim


Jim Woodring. Fantagraphics, $30 (224p) ISBN 978-1-606-99752-9

Those who have recently jumped aboard the Woodring train will likely find this collection of his early work from the ’80s a little disorienting. Large stretches of this comic bear little resemblance to better-known cartoony surrealist works like Frank, in style or subject matter. What’s so delightful and revealing, however, is just how fully realized Woodring’s work appears in these early zines. Sure, it’s a far cry from what the artist would accomplish in masterworks like Weathercraft, but his loosely inked cartoonish grotesques could well pass for the prime work of a lesser cartoonist. Current readers will likely find a thrill in the flashes and glints of Woodring’s mature style that peek through, from anthropomorphic frog kings to floating, disembodied hallucinations, but even on its own terms, the quasi-autobiographical strips are fun and funny more often than not. There’s also pleasure to be derived from inclusion of the ephemeral noncomics content that was once so common in underground single issues, including illustrated short stories, fake ads, and letter pages. For anyone who enjoys Woodring’s work, this collection is well worth buying. (Sept.)