Saturday May 29th is Jim Woodring Day at Oslo Comics Expo. You can meet the American cartoonist at 16.00, and also at Galleri Briskeby alongside Norwegian cartoonist Øystein Runde. This is my short interview with the man, done for a little story about his toys in D2.
ØH: What has been most important you the last 10-15 years, comics or toys?
JW: Comics, definitely. The toy prospects I had lined up disappeared with the economic downturn. The last toy made from my designs was Big Egypt Parlor Sphinx by Cardboard Spaceship last year. There are 50 of those.
I only recently got back into drawing comics again after a few years of drawing and painting. Weathercraft is the first in a series of books in that 100-page format. Proposed series, I should say. The story Congress of the Animals is about a third done.
ØH: How do you describe Frank to someone who hasn’t read it?
JW: I usually say they are wordless, bizarre cartoon fables.
ØH: What do you aim for when designing toys?
JW: I aim to submit designs that are satisfying to me. I want the figure to have staying power. I want people to become attached to them.
ØH: Do you think they are mostly played with or collected?
JW: Aren’t they mostly collected? Very gently played with. I’ll keep Dorbel or Lorbo in the shower but I don’t care if they become weathered. I wouldn’t do that with a figure I bought
ØH: What’s your most successful, and your most controversial, toy?
JW: I think my most successful toy was the Crazy Newts. The most controversial, I guess, would be Lorbo. Some insightful person wrote, after seeing Lorbo online, «Why does anyone make this useless ugly junk that nobody wants?». Good question! Lorbo is so aggressively unappealing I can see their point entirely. But then that’s the point of Lorbo, so what the hell.
Bonus: D2-notis om Vårverk.
Hvis kunstmaleren Hieronymus Bosch hadde blitt født i Los Angeles på 1950-tallet istedenfor Holland på 1450-tallet, ville han trolig ha laget tegneseriebøker som Vårverk. Amerikaneren Jim Woodring slet med hallusinasjoner som barn og alkoholisme som voksen, men heldigvis har han kanalisert ut problemene sine i tegneserier som svever et sted mellom barnelitteraturens drømmeverden og Bosch’ marerittaktige hallusinasjoner.
Woodring har laget tegneserier i rundt 30 år, men har de siste årene trappet ned til fordel for malerier og leketøysdesign. Når hans figur Frank nå vender tilbake i den ordløse pantomimeserien Vårverk, hans første utgivelse på norsk, er det en stor begivenhet for fans som hjemlige serieskapere som Jason og Øystein Runde. Runde mener Woodring påfører leserne «medisinfrie psykoser».