An interview with Jim Woodring
(Read Part I here)
THE BELIEVER: You use a classic cartoon vocabulary.
JIM WOODRING: Well, I think that cartoons have a lot more power than they’re given credit for. I have a personal definition of cartooning, which is, simply, “imaginative drawing.” Anything you’re drawing that is not in front of you but is a mental construct that you want to express in a drawing is, to me, a cartoon. To my way of thinking, the concept drawings that Rembrandt did, the drawings he made that he used to model his artists, to work out the compositions of his paintings: those are cartoons. They’re drawn with cartoon shorthand vocabulary. Look at his sketch for the return of the prodigal son. The expression on the angry younger brother’s face—it’s a classic cartoon expression. The head is down; the eyebrow is just one curved line over the eyes. It communicates in a very shorthand way. It’s beautiful, expressive, and, in a peculiar way, it’s more powerful than the kind of stilted, formalized expression in the final painting. Or look at the engravings of Blake, or The Scream, by Munch, or the faces of Christ’s tormentors in that Bosch painting of Jesus carrying the cross. Those are cartoons, in my book.