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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.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ivan Salazar, public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407.
To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading (and playing), click below.
He’s debuted stunning, moving original graphic novels two years in a row (Weathercraft, one of the year’s best books, in 2010, and The Congress of the Animals this year), while his compendium The Frank Book has recently returned to print. But Jim Woodring is not one to rest on his laurels where his funny-animal protagonist Frank is concerned. Lately he’s been posting breathtaking images like the one you see above to his blog on a surprisingly regular basis. They appear to show Frank up to his old mischievous tricks, and to augur another Frank book on the horizon. Check them out here and here, and marvel that a cartoonist of Woodring’s caliber is tossing these things out there for free like it ain’t no thing.
Retailing | Although the 14th volume of The Walking Dead wasn’t released until June 21, it still managed to secure the No. 2 spot on BookScan’s list of graphic novels sold in bookstores that month, behind the 51st volume of Naruto. It’s the ninth consecutive month that at least one volume of the horror series has appeared in the BookScan Top 20, a run that began as marketing geared up for the AMC television adaptation. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Darwyn Cooke has announced that the release of Parker: The Martini Edition will be postponed for a few months, and takes full responsibility for the delay. The book is now scheduled to debut at the Long Beach Comic Con in October [Almost Darwyn Cooke’s Blog]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller looks at the history of comics numbering, which he traces back to dime novels of the 19th and early 20th centuries: “Comics are anomalous in American magazine publishing because most comics don’t use volume numbers and issue numbers that roll over ever year; rather, the numbers keep on going. In that, our numbering is much like that used for the cheap, disposable fiction of the earlier days.” [The Comichron]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15:
I’d surround myself with good-humored, good-natured comics. Sometimes you just gotta do that. My stack would include Veronica #207 ($2.99), which launches the new Kevin Keller miniseries; Donald Duck #367 ($3.99), with a rework of a classic Carl Barks story; Space Warped ($3.99), kaboom’s new Star Wars parody comic (I probably won’t get half the jokes, but it looks like it’s worth checking out); and Love and Capes Ever After #5 ($3.99), just because Love and Capes is such a charming comic. I may be poor, but at least I’ll be happy.
His latest book Weathercraft just came out last week, but already Frank cartoonist Jim Woodring’s next graphic novel is making me deeply uncomfortable. Woodring is showing off images from and inspired by his forthcoming The Congress of the Animals on his own blog and over at the Fantagraphics blog, and they’re among the creepiest things I’ve ever seen him do. And if you’ve read the excellent Weathercraft, an early contender for book of the year, you know that’s pretty damn creepy.