Page 45 Review by Stephen
Jim Woodring, the creator of CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS and WEATHERCRAFT, delivers 352 pages of both black and white and full-colour stories crafted prior to those books, plus loads of the original comic covers and more.
Frank is an anthropomorphic, purple-and-cream-furred, white gloved, buck-toothed... bear of sorts. (Mark said cat, I say bear, though now that I think about it...) He's a fallible being given to temptation and insatiable curiosity, but defended at every juncture by his loyal companions Pupshaw and Pushpaw. The stories are fantastical, phantasmagorical fables full of transmogrification, mostly silent so that you can bring to them what you will and interpret them as you like, and if you were to sit down with someone else and discuss any given piece you'd find it very revealing - both of yourself and of your friend. I often describe them as "mind-altering, yet legal". Enlightening too, as I say.
Just don't be taken in by how kid-friendly it looks on the surface: it isn't. There are some horrific mutilations, and all the cruelty that can come with real life made even worse by the unsettling strangeness of dreams. The man is a visionary, a veritable shaman with a love of Persian architecture and that rare ability to communicate wisdom - and folly (umm, yes, mostly folly!) - with skill. As a visual craftsman he totally floors me, his wrinkled-line textures placed just-so, leaving each panel on the page a perfect composition. A beautiful, beautiful book.