The New Surrealism: Now With Meaning!
Hello, lovers of comic books and surreal fables! I’m here to tell you a little about Jim Woodring’s latest graphic novel, Congress of the Animals.
Lovable Slacker Meets World
Adorably catlike, carefree, and clueless, Frank has the naïve bohemian lifestyle down: a little palace to live in, two oddly lovable pets, and even croquet sets falling out of the sky to provide him with an afternoon’s diversion. But when the harsh reality of debt repayment rears its ugly head, he simply can’t cope with the drudgery of a day job and takes the easy way out, sabotaging factory equipment and fleeing town with his nefarious accomplice.
Away from his home and unprepared for life in the wild, he is naturally drawn to an amusement park, one unlike any you or I have ever seen. Thinking himself free from responsibility, Frank gets good and lazy, only mustering up energy when there is an opportunity to vandalize ancient statues or take objects of unimagined beauty.
This Is No Hero’s Quest
Eventually becoming hopelessly lost, he finds more to worry about than an honest day’s work. Chased by the ravenous unknown, he runs until he finds himself on a plateau in view of an awe-inspiring monument (that looks a lot like him!), and he sets out for it. But while his is a spiritual journey of sorts, Frank lacks the integrity to take part in a hero’s quest. On his way he stumbles upon inquisitive intestine-worshippers, has a mind-blowing vision, squares off against conjoined monsters, and takes part in a powerfully mysterious ritual of manual labor.
When Frank reaches his destination and knocks on the door, who will answer it? And will he be worthy of their company? Has that adorable knucklehead learned anything at all?
No Spoilers Here
Maybe it seems as if I’ve told you the whole story already. Not to worry, as I am only giving a basic outline of what Jim Woodring has rendered (without a single word!) in inspirationally meticulous ink drawings. You’ll really have no idea of this book’s content until you pick it up and view sights that are organically bizarre, beautifully horrific, cryptically disturbing, and genuinely heartwarming.
Other works by Woodring can be found right here.
Photo Credit: “Frank Slumbering on Jiva” by Jim Woodring
Chris Gray likes to lay on the couch and read comics about lazy characters who get what’s coming to them. It’s called catharsis, people!