Jim is a brand-new collection of Woodring's earliest comics work, which was originally produced as zines in the early 1980s until Fantagraphics cofounder Gary Groth fell in love with his work and became his lifelong publisher. This isn't a stack of embarrassing juvenalia; the quality of work is very high, but if you stare at the pages for a while, you'll notice a bit of uncharacteristic uncertainty resonating through the ink. In an interview with Woodring, he admits that "it is hard to go back to your old work," but he's overall "thrilled" to review his earliest comics. "I was stunned by how authentic [the work in Jim] is to me today," he says. The book "had this symbolic power, and I can feel it rising up in me again" while reading it. Keen eyes can spot a faulty bit of crosshatched shading, or a messy silhouette that Woodring would never sign his name to now, but for the most part, this is fully realized work produced by the hand of a man who is entirely confident about what he's trying to communicate.
And don't forget that the man himself will be signing books at the University Bookstore in Seattle TONIGHT at 7PM.