Strange, Stormy Weather

weathercraftWeathercraft by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics Books) The graphic novel has just been administered a psychotropic enema. Thankfully for the literary-constipated with ever-narrowing moral codes, balance can be restored by absorbing all that comprises Jim Woodring's creative zeitgeist. In this case, it is his first graphic novel that does just that. In this installment, Whim ("brittle-bodied biscuit-bastard") and Manhog (pig-human hybrid) dance the cosmic pas de deux in the alternate universe, The Unifactor. For the uninitiated, Mr. Woodring has been creating parallel universes for over twenty years and is the creator of the celebrated wordless FRANK comics, the first being FRANK IN THE RIVER released in 1992. If you've not sipped from his well, well, be prepared for the ultimate thirst quencher. His panel composition and technique are extraordinary. As Francis Ford Coppola notes on the dust jacket's back cover, "Jim Woodring has taken the time and trouble to master the cartoonist's craft in order to express his vision of the universe in a way that any person in any culture can absorb." manhog-woodringSo it's no big deal that each panel is delivered without dialogue. The iconographic imagery more than delivers this mind-expanding narrative. Let's be Frank, this is not an easy read. Then again, what acid trip is. While ultimately this is Manhog's journey, all of FRANK’s characters join him in this navel-gazing narrative, including Frank's diminutive, mailbox-like Pupshaw (she) and Pushpaw (he) and reality-busting shamans "Betty and Veronica" (Jerry Chickens). Mr. Woodring is the Tim Burton of comics. (In fact, they should collaborate! The results would be mind-blowing.) You will be baffled and befuddled, but you will ultimately be rewarded by being absorbed into an alternative universe that slowly expands beyond our conventional 3-D reality into the heavenly rendered pen-and-ink world of Mr. Woodring and his cast of surreal characters. It is literally a journey to the center of your mind. - Dusty Wright P.S. Original pages from Weathercraft are currently on display/sale at the Scott Eder Gallery in Brooklyn. Well worth the effort. Purchase thru Amazondusty5aMr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs, and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was a William Morris agent.