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Woodring, Jim

Entry updated 24 October 2022. Tagged: Artist, Author, Comics, Film.

(1952-    ) American cartoonist, Comic book artist and author. Prone to hallucinations when young, Woodring dropped out of college and after a stint as a garbage collector joined Ruby-Spears Productions as an animator, working on such low-quality shows as Rubik the Amazing Cube (1983) (see Hanna-Barbera) and Turbo Teen (1984-1985), about a teenager who could transform into a sports car. Whilst there he began his first comic, Jim, and then his most well known series, Frank. Woodring has also written stories for comics (illustrated by others) set in the Alien and Star Wars film franchises, designed toys and provided the artwork for the boxed set of Paul Di Filippo's novella Cosmocopia (2008) and for an illustrated reissue of David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus (1920). An Anime DVD anthology of eight Frank stories, Visions of Frank (2005), was directed by Woodring himself.

Frank is a "generic anthropomorph who is ineducable, ignoble and innocent" and would not look out of place in an early Walt Disney (see The Walt Disney Company) or Fleischer Brothers (see Max Fleischer) short. He lives with his two pets Pupshaw and Pushpaw, who also act as his guardians, in a house set in a sparsely populated rural landscape (though there is at least one factory, where Frank has to work when he falls into debt). This world is called the Unifactor, and is in some ways conscious, though probably more a genius loci than a Living World. Frank's journeys – which have something of Alice's wanderings about them (see Lewis Carroll) – lead to interactions with other creatures, objects or buildings, often resulting in their and/or Frank's transformation or distortion – sometimes resulting in body Horror or dread. Recurring antagonists are the self-explanatory Manhog, who is more pathetic than evil, prone to following his baser instincts; and Whim, a malicious smiling demon (see Gods and Demons). There is conversation but no dialogue is shown.

By way of example, in one story Frank is ploughing a field and accidentally breaks a buried urn: a heavily patterned snake-like creature escapes, swallowing Pushpaw as its expanding coils engulf the scenery. Frank and Pupshaw wander the ensuing desolate landscape, with Frank despairing: however, Pushpaw tears through the stomach (or dimensional wall) to reach the pair, who crawl out through the gap into a lushly decorated building, whereupon a noise from another room compels them to flee. Stories can involve Monsters, Shapeshifting, Dimensions and changes of perspective (see Great and Small). Though the setting is largely Pastoral, there is some Technology: Whim has a device that warps physically and mentally, whilst another allows Frank to display a person's dreams or thoughts (a form of Dream Hacking). An open-topped Rocket ship also makes an appearance.

Woodring has said the Betty Boop cartoon Bimbo's Initiation (1933) shaped not only his art but also his outlook. His work is remarkable: the imagery is often hallucinogenic, taking in surrealism and psychedelia, and has become increasingly ornate; it is also symbolic, often reflecting the influence of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy (see Metaphysics, Religion), of which Woodring is a follower. [SP]

James William Woodring

born Los Angeles, California: 11 October 1952

works (selected)



  • Aliens: Labyrinth (Milwaukie, Oregon: Dark Horse Comics, 1997) [graph: Aliens: pb/Kilian Plunkett]
  • Aliens: Kidnapped (Milwaukie, Oregon: Dark Horse Comics, 1999) [graph: Aliens: pb/Jason Green and Francisco Solano Lopez]


  • The Frank Book (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2003) [coll: graph: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]
  • Pupshaw and Pushpaw (Tokyo: Presspop, 2004) [graph: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]
  • Weathercraft (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2010) [graph: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]
  • Congress of the Animals (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2011) [graph: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]
  • Fran (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2013) [graph: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]
  • Frank in the 3rd Dimension (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2016) with Charles Barnard [coll: graph: 3-D effect with special glasses: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]
  • Poochytown (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2018) [graph: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]
  • And Now, Sir, Is This Your Missing Gonad? (Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books, 2022) [graph: Frank: hb/Jim Woodring]

individual titles

works as illustrator


previous versions of this entry

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