Jim Woodring was born in Los Angeles in 1952 and enjoyed a childhood made interesting by frequent hallucinations, apparitions, disembodied voices and other psychological malfunctions.
Despite the generally frightening nature of his delusions he learned to accept them as part of life and was accordingly a reasonably cheerful and good-natured lad.
After barely graduating from high school Woodring got a job as a garbage man and lived in picturesque squalor as he set about the task of capturing his inner life in words and pictures.
Some of these fledgling efforts were printed in various “underground” publications of the day: Two-Bit Comics (a weekly tabloid), the Los Angeles Free Press, and an early effort at self-publishing, The Little Swimmer.
Gradually he developed a number of serviceable drawing styles and became a full-time freelance cartoonist, doing work primarily for advertising agencies and public relations companies but also working on whatever projects came his way, such as student films and other collaborative art.
Eventually Woodring landed a salaried job in an L.A. animation studio where he worked on some of the worst cartoons this degraded planet has ever seen.
In 1980 he self-published the first issue of his “illustrated autojournal”, JIM, containing comics, drawings and stories drawn from his indelible childhood experiences.
JIM was subsequently published as a 32-page magazine by Fantagraphics Books.
Response was good enough to persuade Woodring to leave animation and embark on a career as a full-time cartoon artiste.
His work has been featured in many publications that deal with comics and culture, from the high-brow Kenyon Review and World Art Magazine to Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope, as well as the Frank comics.
Woodring was a Wattis Artist-in-Residency at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, May 2002. In 2006 he and guitarist Bill Frisell were awarded a United tates Artists Fellowship for their collaborative stage shows.
A large solo show of work from all phases of his career was the centerpiece of the 2007 International Comics Festival in Angouléme, France, and he was invited to participate in Toys and Comiix exhibition, due to open
November 2007, at the Louvre.
He lives in Seattle, USA with his family and residual phenomena.
Jim Woodring –
Quotes on his work:
Frank is such a strange creation… wordless, timeless, placeless, full of unprecedented characters and experiences; it exists on its own bizarre terms. It offers vivid tableaus of tenderness and bloodshed, cruelty and sacrifice, love and betrayal, terror and bliss; and it offers them wrapped like candies from another planet. ~Francis Ford Coppola~
Frank will take you to another world, re-arrange your consciousness and reprogram the inside of your head. It’s cheaper than virtual reality, less risky than recreational pharmaceuticals, and more fun than falling asleep. ~Neil Gaiman~
Jim Woodring may be the most important cartoonist of his generation. The Frank stories are masterpieces, each and every one. Read them. Re-read them. Re-re-read them. Every cell in your body will remember this spellbinding, visionary work. ~Scott McCloud~ (Author, Understanding comics and Re-inventing comics)
Frank lives in a tooth-and-claw, pre-civilized world, but with card-playing, geometrically shaped chickens, stick-figure devils that read books, and man-hogs who live in houses… a world of abstract angels, mutated frogs and other Jungian visions of the unconscious.
Woodring keeps the stories wordless, both as a challenge to himself — “like writing a novel without the letter ‘e,'” he has said — but, more importantly, as a way of avoiding cultural currency. Not using words keeps the “Frank” stories timeless and universal…It’s almost a shame these are wordless stories, since Woodring’s prose remains one of the most distinctive in comics. ~Andrew D. Arnold~ (Time.Com)
The title of Jim Woodring’s latest book, Seeing Things, is blunt and completely accurate. Woodring has indeed been seeing things for at least 30 years. In a style that could be compared to an acid-fried Georgia O’Keeffe, Woodring has crafted a world of childlike curiosity and sudden horror and grotesquerie. This collection is a beautifully printed package of four portfolios, three of which are in black and white. While Woodring is known for his vibrant, sensual color palette, he proves here that he is capable of evoking something more sinister with gray tones and stark blacks. A whole section, “Lazy Robinson,” is devoted to charcoal drawings of embryonic forms: two snail-like shells joined together, or the cover image of a skull with no features save for a lower jawbone. The solid black backgrounds of these pieces suggest a womblike setting, an extension of Woodring’s infatuation with childhood. And since frogs have always figured prominently in his work, it’s only right that they be given their own portfolio; they’re shown here in various stages of intoxication, fear, meditation, and death. Some are drawn straightforwardly, others in some form of mutation or other. The lone color portfolio is classic Woodring: Demented toys share space with evil-looking shortbread cookies and more murderous and wasted frogs. On the whole, it’s another great collection from one of our favorite local weirdos. ~Brian J. Barr~ (Seattle Weekly)
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