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Customer Review

on June 13, 2011
I've been a fan of Jim's unique and unsettling visions since I first encountered JIM magazine in the late 80's, but I have to admit, it took some time for Frank to grow on me. At first I was more enamored of Mr. Woodring's illustrated text pieces such as Horse Sinister, and his lucid dream inspired pieces like What The Left Hand Did. But eventually Frank and The Unifactor won me over.

One thing I've heard people say about Jim's imagery is that it resonates with them in a strange way, with a slight tug of deja vu at the base of the brain, like they've experienced it somewhere before. Perhaps in a long forgotten dream, a repressed childhood memory or a hallucination experienced during a severe childhood fever. Count me among them. When I read Jim's work, I often feel a sense of strange memories *almost* being recalled, but remaining tantalizingly out of reach. It is as though the art is merely a "port" that my eyeballs "plug into," allowing mysteries of the universe to flow directly into my subconscious from a source behind the page.

Jim's work isn't just incredible storytelling and unique visual style, it's a complete language unto itself. The best way I can describe it is that Jim's work forces the reader's brain to employ different "muscles" for comprehension than any normal human is used to exercising (at least in Western culture). The literal brain is gently lulled into stasis by Jim's hypnotic linework, while other faculties such as intuition and the ones that allow us to "read" facial expressions and detect emotion and meaning in patterns and designs come to the fore, but are used in a more all-encompassing way to "read" an entire story with a degree of depth and nuance that mere words and pictures alone could never hope to convey. -And Jim does this which such dexterity that he is able to abandon words altogether! Yikes!

Anyhoo...

In my opinion, Jim's narrative and artistic powers grew exponentially with Weathercraft. And they've multiplied again here with Congress of the Animals. You'll share A poignant and breathtaking journey with Frank that is equally beautiful and horrific. A truly spellbinding and hypnotic work that will speak directly to your soul. At least, it spoke to mine. YMMV.

I believe Congress of the Animals to be Jim Woodring's finest and most satisfying effort to date, and anyone would be foolish not to experience it for themselves.

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A WORD OF WARNING!!!
Unfortunately, Jim appears to have felt compelled to explain far too much of the story on the Inside flap and back cover of the dustjacket! DO NOT LOOK AT IT BEFORE READING THE BOOK!! In my opinion it's far more engaging and enjoyable to divine the meaning for yourself! Luckily I realized what was happening and stopped reading before I'd gotten too far. Afterwards, I went back and looked at it and confirmed that yes, my personal enjoyment of the work would indeed have been impaired if I had read the dustjacket first. Please help spread the word: DO NOT READ THE DUST JACKET FIRST!!!
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