Weathercraft

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Weathercraft
Cover of the first, hardcover printing of Weathercraft, featuring the hags "Betty and Veronica" and the head of Manhog
Date 2010
Series Frank
Page count 104 pages
Publisher Fantagraphics Books
Creative team
Creator Jim Woodring
Original publication
Language English
ISBN 978-1606993408
Chronology
Followed by Congress of the Animals

Weathercraft is a 2010 graphic novel by American cartoonist Jim Woodring, featuring his best-known characters Frank, Manhog and Whim. While Frank stars in most of Woodring's stories set in the fictional universe of the Unifactor, this book stars Manhog, with Frank making only a brief appearance. Manhog, after trials and tribulations, sets out on a transformative journey, returning to face off against the devilish Whim, who has enslaved and transformed his friends. Like all other stories set in the Unifactor, Weathercraft unfolds entirely in pictures, with no dialogue balloons or captions. Weathercraft was Woodring's first book-length work.

Publication history[edit]

Weathercraft was published in book form without first being serialized first, a first for Woodring. Some panels of the book were previewed on Woodring's blog leading up to publication. When asked in an interview with The A.V. Club why, after 30 years of doing comics, he had now decided to produce his first graphic novel, he replied:

"It sounds kind of dumb, but I just didn’t think of doing it until recently. I used to publish these stories in 32-page comics, and I would either do short stories or break the long ones up into chunks so there would be some variety inside the Weathercraft comic. But since then, people have been doing more and more long, standalone works, and the term "graphic novel" has sort of become the codified term now. It just seemed like the time was right to do it. I always felt that I could do those Frank stories by the inch, yard, or mile. The length of the stories never really mattered that much to me."

The dust jacket was quite verbose, in contrast with the pantomime of the book itself. On this he said, "I thought it would be funny to have a book that was almost word-free and a dust jacket that was slathered in copy."[1]

Overview[edit]

Aum
This character is hidden somewhere in the artwork of every page of the book.

Weathercraft, like all of the works set in Woodring's Unifactor (the world in which Frank and associated characters appear), is executed in wordless pantomime, with no word balloons or captions of any kind. In contrast, the dust jacket is quite verbose, and provides clues to the interpretation of the story. "[A] cyclical telling of Manhog's suffering, punishment and enlightenment", the book actually stars Manhog, with Frank only appearing briefly. Another recurring character, the devilish Whim, also features.[citation needed]

The book is dense and intricate. It rewards (or requires) re-readings,[2] and "blends [Woodring's] understanding of Vedantic beliefs with stylized, Max Fleischer nightmares to explore ideas about the evolution of consciousness. As if to hammer home this mysticism, Woodring notes that the Sanskrit symbol for the sacred syllable Aum [] is hidden on each page."[3] Every detail of the book has meaning to Woodring, although he accepts and encourages "reader participation" and further or alternate interpretations.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

After merging with a psychoactive plant known as Salvia divinorum,[3] Whim proceeds to "distort and enslave Frank and his friends". After much suffering, Manhog sets out on a transformative journey, attaining enlightenment. Manhog then returns for a final encounter with Whim.[citation needed]

Characters[edit]

Manhog 
"[A] freakish creature that is often depicted as hedonistic villain whenever he isn't being forced to suffer."[4] With some notable exceptions like the short story Gentlemanhog, Manhog is normally a secondary character in the stories set in the Unifactor, where Frank is normally the star.
The significant thing for Manhog in Weathercraft, according to Woodring, "is that [Manhog] feels morally obligated to clean up after himself" after being "responsible for Whim's acquiring a hallucinogenic plant-body...a first for him. He passes up a chance to enter paradise in order to do the right thing."[5]

"In a lot of ways, Manhog is the most interesting character in the Unifactor. He has the most potential for change and the widest range of dramatic possibilities. Besides, it's fun to put him in awful circumstances and watch him suffer. There's something about a big fat guy screaming in terror that's just naturally funny. Oliver Hardy got a lot of mileage out of that formula."

Jim Woodring, 2010, on Manhog being the star of Weathercraft[5]
Whim 
As in so many other stories, this devilish, perpetually smiling, moon-headed character spends his time tantalizing and torturing the inhabitants of the Unifactor. "[A]t one point [he] merges with a psychoactive plant called Salvia divinorum"[3] and "distorts and enslaves Frank and his friends."
Frank 
Normally the main character of the stories set in the Unifactor, Frank plays a small but important role in this book, distorted and enslaved by Whim early in the book.
Pupshaw and Pushpaw 
Companions and protectors of Frank, they are distorted and enslaved along with him by the now superpowerful Whim.
Frank's Faux Paw 
Quadrupedal "bad conscience" of Frank, he plays a minor but critical role in the book. When participating in a forced marriage that is interrupted by Manhog, he reveals the location of the transformed Whim.
"Betty and Veronica" 
Described on the dust jacket as "our grossly inappropriate pet names for the unchristened hags"[6] who "seem to have elemental control over [Manhog's] life".[7] They are "two bird-like hags that mysteriously propel the story from the sidelines through rituals that alter the weather and, in turn, alter Manhog’s course".[8] The pet names are taken from the characters Betty and Veronica from Archie comic books.

Reception[edit]

The book was included on numerous "Best of 2010" lists, including:

Foreign editions[edit]

Translations
Language Title Publisher Date ISBN
Dutch Weersomstandigheden[12] De Bezige Bij November 2009 978-9-054-92275-9
Norwegian Værverk[13] Jippi Forlag November 2009 978-8-292-22623-0
French Weathercraft l'Association 2010-01-09 978-2-844-14390-7
Italian Weathercraft Coconino Press July 2010 978-8-876-18169-6

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Interview Jim Woodring, The A.V. Club, July 8, 2010, retrieved April 4, 2011 
  2. ^ Parille, Ken (2010-06-18). "How to Read Weathercraft; or, How I Read It and What I Learned". Blog Flume. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  3. ^ a b c Rios, Paul (2010-06-10). "Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft". espabl.com. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  4. ^ Stone, Tucker (2010-06-01). "Description is a Myth". comixology.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  5. ^ a b Manning, Shaun (2010-04-09). "Woodring Practices "Weathercraft" (interview)". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  6. ^ Woodring, Jim (2010). Weathercraft, dustjacket. Fantagraphics Books, Seattle. ISBN 978-1-60699-340-8.
  7. ^ "Weathercraft by Jim Woodring". The Name of this Cartoon is Brunswick. 2010-11-16. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  8. ^ Dayton, Robert (2010-08-08). "Weathercraft by Jim Woodring". Roctober. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  9. ^ "The 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony honors the best books of 2010". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Best Books of 2010". Publishers Weekly. November 8, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  11. ^ Wolk, Douglas (December 20, 2010). "The Best Graphic Novels of 2010". Time. Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ Product page for Weersomstandigheden
  13. ^ Product page for Værverk (in Norwegian)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]