If there is any true visionary in comics today, surely it is Jim Woodring. No one is able to plumb the horror and wonder of simply being alive in the same surreal and enigmatic fashion as Woodring, nor able to combine veer from whimsy to Lynchian terror at the drop of a hat. In graphic novels like Weathercraft and Congress of the Animals, he has shown himself to be not only a (wordless) storyteller of the highest order, but one whose stories feel both warmly familiar and totally alien at the same time — no small feat.
Woodring’s latest book is Problematic, from Fantagraphics, a collection of sketchbook drawings made between 2004 and 2012 on a series of pocket-sized Moleskine books. Ranging from concept sketches to figure studies to caricatures to the sort of phantasmagorical creatures that populate his universes, Problematic is both a stroll through Woodring’s unique imagination and an opportunity to see his working process — to see the “idea batteries” (as the press release calls it) up close and personal.
Woodring was kind enough to answer a barrage of questions I threw at him about Problematic, as well as his next, upcoming graphic novel Fran, a sequel to Congress of the Animals. I could have spent weeks pestering him with questions, and I’m grateful for taking the time to respond.
Apparently, 2000AD group editor Matt Smith has nixed this Judge Dredd cover by Jason Latour. The specter of Frank Miller’s ill-fated cover commission was apparently raised. This must remain a sore subject with Tharg. Personally, I like this image, and can’t see anything wrong with it, but then, I’ve berated Smith for playing it safe with his art choices before and probably will again. More problematic work below — Steve Rude takes a controversial gig; Gary Erskine risks a stay in the Tower for treason; Graeme Neil Reid illustrates the most violent, foulmouthed superheroes of them all; Jim Woodring takes my theme’s title and makes it concrete, and more. And as usual, you may reckon some of this material is NSFW.