Monday, September 20, 2010


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.

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