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Congress of the animals
2012 Eisner Award Nominee: Best Writer/Artist (Jim Woodring)
Winner, Prix Spécial du jury (Jury Prize), 2012 Festival International de la Bande Desinée de Angoulême (French edition)
Finalist, 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Graphic Novels
Readers of the “Frank” stories know that the Unifactor is in control of everything that happens to the characters that abide there, and that however extreme the experiences they undergo may be, in the end nothing really changes. That goes treble for Frank himself, who is kept in a state of total ineducability by the unseen forces of that haunted realm. And so the question arises: what would happen if Frank were to leave the Unifactor?
That question is answered in Congress of the Animals, Jim Woodring's much-anticipated second full-length graphic novel following 2010's universally acclaimed Weathercraft, and first starring his signature character Frank. In this gripping saga an act of casual rudeness sets into motion a chain of events which propels Frank into a world where he is on his own at last; and like so many who leave home, Frank finds himself contending with realities of which he had no previous inkling.
In Congress of the Animals we are treated to the pitiful spectacle of Frank losing his house, taking a factory job, falling in with bad company, fleeing the results of sabotage, escaping the Unifactor in an amusement park ride, surviving a catastrophe at sea, traveling across hostile terrain toward a massive temple seemingly built in his image, being treated roughly by gut-faced men and intervening in an age-old battle in a meadow slathered in black and yellow blood. And when he finally knocks on opportunity's door he finds... he finds...
Suffice to say he finds what most of us would like to find. Can he bring it back with him? Will the unifactor accept him as he has become? Are his sins forgiven? Is love real? Is this the end of Frank as we know him?
"Woodring's art is, as ever, both disquieting and beautiful, seemingly composed of little more than rippled lines of varying length and depth, and the characters and beasts that populate his worlds are often grotesque… What's remarkable is that Congress is told entirely without words, leaving the reader to divine meaning from the procession of images for him or herself. It's a gorgeous, worrying work that repays repeated readings tenfold, and is a potent reminder of comics' ability to do just about anything at all." – Jes Bickham, Comic Heroes