Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 22

« I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. » — Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

Jim Woodring‘s Frank, cogently termed « a bipedal, bucktoothed animal of uncertain species » was introduced to readers on the cover of Jim no. 4 (Dec. 1990, Fantagraphics), virtually straight from his genitor’s id. He would turn out to be Woodring’s most enduring creation. I was absolutely in awe of Woodring’s original, somewhat autobiographical showcase title, Jim. But it practically sold in the negative numbers (I recall an admiring / dismayed Dan Clowes stating something to that effect during an interview), and dammit, a genius like Woodring should be able to earn a living in freedom and dignity, so I understand the slight shift in gears. Though I miss Woodring’s tremendous verbal gifts, Frank’s is a rather extraordinary universe.

WoodringTanta01A
This is Tantalizing Stories no. 1 (Oct. 1992, Tundra), a duplex anthology shared by Woodring and Mark Martin. Painted cover by Woodring, of course.

Speaking of Tundra, its tale is quite a colourful one: it was the publisher that The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles built; an act of atonement? « Tundra was certainly, not to put too fine a point on it, the biggest and most absurd (as well as the most idealistic) publishing catastrophe in the history of comics — maybe in the history of the print medium. » [ source ]

WoodringHalloween01A
Frank observes the signs of autumn, which puts him in a contemplative, melancholy mood; the middle tier of page 2.

WoodringFrankDead01A

WoodringFrankDead02A
Yeah, I’ve been to a couple of those parties too.
WoodringFrankDead03A
The party sequence; I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, which comes one page later. Read the issue in full here. Woodring is of that rare complete breed of cartoonist, a uniquely soulful writer and a master of both black and white and colour rendering, quite autonomous but also a fine collaborator.

Woodring, nearly three decades down the line, has stated that he’s ‘extremely interested’ in wrapping up Frank’s adventures.

-RG

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s