Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring’s comics capture dream atmosphere and logic more effectively than any other I’ve come across (with the possible exception of Jesse Reklaw’s “Slow Wave,” which I would also recommend but which is a little different in that it illustrates dreams submitted by the public).

Most of Woodring’s books involve the adventures of a character named “Frank,” who looks almost like something you’d see in a Disney or Looney Tunes cartoon. But while there are amusing moments, these wordless comics tend toward the phantasmagorical.

For a good introduction to Woodring, I’d look for either “The Frank Book,” a large collection of short stories and other art, or “Weathercraft,” a shorter book that tells a single story.

If you’re already familiar with Woodring, what motivated me to create this post now is a new documentary. The film consists primarily of Woodring discussing his art and his background as he works. I found it fascinating. You can watch it for free online if you’re so inclined.

The Illumination of Jim Woodring from Chris Brandt on Vimeo.

Detail from one of my favorite pieces by Woodring:


Boson Comics and Waverly Films

Years ago, I came across an unassuming but clever comic strip on the Web called “Boson” by an artist named Christopher Ford. Each strip was a stick drawing, and most were on lined paper.

The site featuring the comics,, disappeared around 2008 as the artist went on to do other things. That site can now be found only at, but these are some sample strips:

Ford later created a Web comic called “The Lonely Infermo” and published two physical books titled “Stickman Odyssey.” (I was not aware of these books until writing this and am curious to see what they are like.)

I don’t remember whether it was before or after I came across the comic strip that I also discovered “Waverly Films.” Ford and others created a series of short comedy videos.

A few examples:

Warning: This one includes brief strong language (but is probably my favorite):


Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay was an influential artist who worked in comics and animation in the early 1900s.

I first came across Little Nemo in Slumberland in “The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics,” a book that my grandmother gave me when I was young. It was some years later that I discovered Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. Both are creative comics involving dreams.

Here is a quote from McCay:

The principal factor in my success has been an absolute desire to draw constantly. I never decided to be an artist. Simply, I couldn’t stop myself from drawing. I drew for my own pleasure. I never wanted to know whether or not someone liked my drawings. I have never kept one of my drawings. I drew on walls, the school blackboard, odd bits of paper, the walls of barns. Today I’m still as fond of drawings as when I was a kid – and that was a long time ago – but, surprising as it may seem, I never thought about the money I would receive for my drawings. I simply drew them.

I would embed a few of my favorite Little Nemo comics here, but as they were intended for full newspaper pages, you really need to see them as large images. Fortunately, you can find nice collections on sites such as this one:

  • Little Nemo in Slumberland
  • Dream of the Rarebit Fiend
    Little Nemo: The Dream Master, which was based on McCay’s comic (or, more accurately, based on a Japanese animated film that was based on his comic) was one of my favorite games on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I couldn’t beat the final boss, though.

    Here is an example of Dream of the Rarebit Fiend:

    Unfortunately, collections of Little Nemo in Slumberland comics in book form tend to be expensive and to go out of print quickly. I own “Little Nemo: 1905-1914,” which was published in 2000 at a reasonable price–but it doesn’t seem to be so reasonable anymore. Dream of the Rarebit Fiend books are much cheaper and easier to find.

    McCay’s comics entered the public domain a few years ago, so they should remain easy enough to find in some form.

    There is also a nice book about his life and his art.