COFFEE DATE: Award winning cartoonist Jim Woodring, whose new graphic novel, Fran (a “bizarre romance”), comes out from Fantagraphics this month.
SCENE: Café Racer, a Wednesday morning in March.
JIM’S ORDER: Coffee, black.
Nancy Guppy: Describe the world through Jim Woodring’s eyes.
Jim Woodring: Hmm. Well, the world has never quite jelled for me. It’s an endlessly strange, endlessly confusing place, and I think it’s worth exploring, especially in art.
NG: Your work can be grotesque, poignant and sweet. Explain that.
JW: I guess that’s the way I feel about life. I find lots in life that’s repulsive and lots in life that’s sweet. It’s all mixed together. You cannot have the one without the other.
NG: On a scale of 1–10, how would you rate your new book, Fran?
JW: It all depends on whether it communicates. It’s the hardest book I’ve ever done, by far. But personally, I’m completely satisfied with it.
NG: Do you get respect in the world of art and the world of literature?
JW: I think I get about as much as I deserve, which is enough. I’m a cult artist with a small following. I’m doing what I want to do. And I’m not ever tempted to do something that’s not heartfelt.
NG: Do you ever worry that you’re gonna run out of ideas?
JW: I don’t worry about running out of ideas because they’re everywhere, but sometimes I’m afraid I’ll wake up and the whole world will look different to me and there won’t be any sparks that make me want to do this.
NG: You’re stuck on a desert island and you can have one book, one record and one type of food.
JW: The food would be popcorn. The book would be the Bhagavad Gita or the gospel of Shiva Ramakrishna. And the record…Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart.
NG: If you were gonna draw me as a cartoon character, what would I look like?
JW: That would totally depend. If I were to draw you as you are, I would draw a beautiful woman who’s—[Nancy interrupts]
NG: I’m sorry, what was that?
JW: You heard me.
Nancy Guppy spotlights Seattle artists on her TV show, Art Zone: seattlechannel.org/artzone
Watch as Guppy covers the SIFF 2013 Opening Night in her latest Art Zone episode.