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July 20, 2013


Fantagraphics Announces Re-Packaging Of Woodring Classic

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By Tom Spurgeon

imageFantagraphics Books is set to announce later today its repackaging and republication of one of the seminal books of alternative comics publishing, Jim Woodring's The Book Of Jim. While details on how that material is to be re-presented and the exact specifications of the resulting book are yet to come, Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds told CR that it's the work in Book Of Jim that will be at the heart of the new effort. He called the effort "overdue."

The Book Of Jim was published during the first great explosion of literary comics in book form in the early 1990s, hitting the stands in 1993. Four issues of the Jim comic book were published from 1987 to 1990; most of the material from that series, including several illustrated prose pieces, made it into the trade volume. The repackaged collection is set for 2014; Woodring's latest work, Fran is due in October of this year from the same publisher.

"What I recall most fondly about the Jim material is how it exploded the idea of autobiographical or journalistic comics for me," critic Joe McCulloch told CR "Typically, the American traditions for autobiography in comics had bent toward the acutely confessional (Justin Green) and unfettered everyday experience (Harvey Pekar). What Woodring did better than anyone was promote the idea that the subconscious, the imaginary, and the dreamtime state were perfectly valid terrains for autobiographical exploration - a character of the Jim comics that gave even their most fictive entries an intense personality. Plus, it’s great comedy. Funny mind, that Woodring."

Woodring's Jim material ranked at #71 on The Comics Journal's list of best cartoonists of the 20th Century. A full list of work in the original collection can be found here.

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