Jim Woodring's cartoons chart a course through some of the most surreal imagery ever seen in any artistic medium, drawing visions from the realms of the subconscious to create a graphic world of dreams. But while his work may speak in the language of dreams, Woodring's life has often led him into nightmare territory. Born in Los Angeles in 1952, and raised in the hills of Burbank, Woodring describes his early Californian childhood as one plagued by both schoolmates and "apparitions" (which he describes as waking nightmares accompanied by "voices" - a condition which would haunt him through childhood and much of his adult life).
Upon graduation from high school, Woodring became a garbage man in Glendale, California, but was forced to quit due to injury. For the next few years, Woodring moved from "the hills" to Santa Barbara, then San Francisco, and eventually back to L.A. During this time, Woodring endured drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness before meeting and marrying Mary Galvin in 1979 and securing employment in the animation industry, working over the next few years for companies like Disney, Hanna-Barbera, and Ruby-Spears. At the same time, Woodring worked on his own cartoon visions, self-publishing the first issue of JIM, in mini-comic format. The "hallucinations and voices" Woodring has been experiencing since childhood finally prompted him to seek professional help, but after several analysts refused to treat him upon seeing his artwork, Woodring decided never to seek therapy again.
In 1987, Woodring quit animation and moved with his wife Mary and son Max to Seattle, Wash., where he continues to work on his comics. His critically-acclaimed comic book series, JIM, returned for a six-issue second volume (as well as a one-shot spin-off, Frank's Real Pa) in the mid-1990s. Two 120-page book collections, Frank Vols. 1 & 2, featuring stories of the Woodring's popular anthropomorph Frank, have been compiled from Tantalizing Stories (a collaboration with Mark Martin which earned Woodring Harvey Awards for Best Colorist and Best Single Issue in a Series), both JIM series, Pictopia, Snake Eyes, Hyena, and various mini-comics.