Jim Woodring, Cartoonist Extraordinaire and winner of this year's Stranger Genius Award for Literature (as well as co-founder of the Friends of the Nib) holds a cupcake in his likeness at the award ceremonies. If you're reading this, you must know Jim's work already, so we won't wax eloquent about its well-wrought, labyrinthine worlds--suffice it to say his recent book, Weathercraft, published by Fantagraphics Books, is as mind-boggling and transcendent as anything he's written and drawn yet. And that's saying a lot.
Paul Constant, in his induction essay, put it this way. "There are only a small number of medium-changing geniuses in the history of cartooning who have managed to develop a singular visual language, and Jim Woodring is one of them. His re-creation of the world in gorgeous, obsessive-compulsive, wavy lines—which he calls the Unifactor and which first saw print in 1992—has its own freestanding physics and morality."
He goes on. And it's all good.
Jim accepted the award with a gracious speech that somehow managed to invoke the noble tradition of cartooning as an art, as well as address a skeptic who had said (publicly) that Weathercraft wasn't literature since there were no words in it, and that Jim should refuse the prize or redistribute the money. "I don't think the Stranger is playing an elite prank here," Jim said, after noting that treating a wordless comic as literature invites controversy, but he suggested the awards committee might be ahead of the curve.
"I think they see that we are living in a transitional period where traditional categories are melting, and blending together. Boundaries everywhere are being dissolved. A high school kid can choose to be either standard gender, or make up a new one. An utter dullard can be the life of the party online." The crowd laughed at all the right spots, and cheered when Jim announced that he would indeed be keeping the prize. "I can sure use the money," he said, before thanking everyone and leaving the stage.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Friends of the Nib will be appearing at Bumbershoot in Seattle, September 4, 5, and 6 from 2:30 to 4pm in the Olympic Room. The Friends will be appearing as part of a wonderful survey of Northwest cartooning, "COUNTERCULTURE COMIX: A 30-Year Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists," curated by Larry Reid in association with Fantagraphics Books. The Friends will be drawing cartoons live for your pleasure and enjoyment. Stop by and say hello.
Who are the Friends of the Nib? There are many misconceptions, some fueled by jealous pantaloons, but this is the truth: The Friends are a mysterious guild of cartoonists practiced in the arcane arts of dip pens, crow-quills and black pots of India Ink. They are practically medieval in their methods and exhibit a virtuosity rarely found in this modern age of computer-corrected artwork. Like the Magnificent Seven or the Seven Samurai, each of the Friends has a unique specialty. Collectively, they are fingers that form a powerful fist. Come see them work their magic.
Although they generally refuse to be photographed, here is a rare picture of the Friends:
The Friends of the Nib (left to right):
Jim Woodring, mystical cartoonist, winner of this year's Stranger Genius Award and celebrated author of "Weathercraft."
Ellen Forney, author of "Lust,""I Love Led Zeppelin," and illustrator of Sherman Alexie's New York Times' bestseller, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian."
Bruce Bickford, animating pioneer artist and creator of "Baby Snakes" for Frank Zappa, "Prometheus' Garden," and subject of the documentary "Monster Road."
Max Clotfelter, a roughed-up sneaky sketch shanty who boggles the mind with his amazing comics; the hobo behind Snake Meat.
Max Badger Woodring, pound for pound the fiercest animal in the wild and a damn fine cartoonist who sometimes travels under the pseudonym "Wax Moodring."
Heidi Estey, a pip with a pen who produces pretty scary and wondrous work to haunt your dreams and nightmares.
Jason T. Miles, a carnival barker, gandy dancer, the surprisingly fresh artist behind "Profanity Hill" and "Bitter Fruit."
Bob Rini, writer, painter, and cartoonist behind "Fear of Art" and "The Nine Pound Hammer."
Come and meet us all, and try your luck with the quills.
An excerpt from "Prometheus' Garden" by Bruce Bickford