Read Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring Online


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 for treble for Frank himself, who is kept in a state of total ineducability by the unseen forces of that haunted realm. And so the questReaders 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 for 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? The question is answered in Congress of the Animals, Jim Woodring's much-anticipated, second full-length graphic novel. 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... The answer, my friend, is blowin' into bookstores in April, 2011....

Title : Congress of the Animals
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781606994375
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 104 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Congress of the Animals Reviews

  • Jan Philipzig
    2018-12-25 04:00

    Perfection. But fun. And romantic, too.

  • Eddie Watkins
    2019-01-14 04:52

    [image error]Mythopoeic. This term must be used when discussing Jim Woodring’s work. Behind the intensely subjective vision and surrealistic extravagances is a heraclitean bedrock of received and created myths. Take Congress of the Animals. What we have here is nothing less than a cosmological creation tale told from a macro- and microcosmic viewpoint. It can be read as the history of a person (more than likely autobiographically Woodringian) and the history of us all (or at least those of us open to the mythopoeic). As it is cosmological rather than cosmogonical it begins with the world already in place, enjoying perhaps a thoughtless and story-free Golden Age, Pupshaw scampering about our shins, and then proceeds to tell the tale of what happens when strife enters the world, and with it self-awareness. Anyone interested in Woodring should know that for years, beginning in childhood, he suffered from hallucinations wherein ominous and threatening shapes and beings divebombed his brain. The stubbornly haunting lineaments of these shapes and beings are clearly represented in his later work. He/she should also know that success did not come easy for him, that he had to work a number of unsavory jobs before making it with his pen. These bare facts are useful to know when reading Congress of the Animals as within it these facts are mythopoeicized.In the beginning a rather capricious and gloating deity is floating about in his balloon popping bon-bons when he inadvertently blocks the rays of a sun tanning satan figure – (check the page (one of my favorites here) that directly correlates the deity with satan, both self-satisfactorily reclining with arms behind head). This conjunction of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (in quotes because there are no absolutes in Woodringland) issues in the destruction of Frank’s (the loveably sappy, and ethically erratic, main character) world; the destruction facilitated by a Pandora’s croquet set jettisoned by the deity as his balloon threatens to plummet.And so a series of crazy adventures ensue, which as I said are roughly autobiographical, including a stint hauling garbage, but which also chronicle the gradual (and fragile) awakening to awareness of any human to himself and to his place in the world.These adventures include: the earth opening up and swallowing his house, an underwater journey where the deity maliciously and gleefully destroys an ancient treasure, the discovery of a large Frank-like monument (which becomes the object of his quest),depictions of the now earthbound deity creating further mischievous disturbances in Frank’s life, with Frank one moment subjected to his will and at another moment free of it and laughing at the disabled deity; the deity having lost a leg and an eye in a no doubt freak accident. Frank, you see, is something of a will-o’-the-wisp, with a continuously fluctuating character, which of course makes him all the more real and affecting. During the course of his adventures he also descends into what can only be termed a psychic hell, where men with hollowed out faces intentionally subject him to horrors and hallucinations, from which Frank emerges with a peculiar twisted-up organ protruding from his navel. He pokes this back in and then goes on his way, no doubt a fundamentally changed creature.Nearly all of the allegorical/symbolical details of the tale are fairly clear to me, which at least on a first read I found vaguely disappointing; but then on further reads the innate power of these details over-rode my logical understanding of them and I found a new satisfaction. Though the meaning/significance of one particular detail still eludes me. At one point Frank ends up literally underground and is enlisted to help an assortment of creatures tug on ropes that drop into a blind hole. With Frank’s help a horrifying though impassive creature with multiple faces in the round emerges, only to fall back into the hall drawing all the creatures but Frank with it. On the back cover Woodring provides a key of sorts to the book, and this particular scene is described as “The sudden appearance of the agency which makes one feel at home in the earth.” Immediately after this adventure Frank does seem to have more self-control, and he does immediately enter a large Frank-like structure unimpeded, wherein he meets his future wife. So the multi-faced creature does appear to have been the agent of some kind of awakening, but it’s so horrific looking! and it did seemingly draw a number of creatures to their deaths, so… what I take from it is that in Woodringland to ‘feel at home in the earth’ is a decidedly mixed blessing.Have the mythopoeic characteristics of this particularly work been well enough elucidated? I hope they have at least been suggested, and far from exhausted, as I hope only to inspire others to check out Woodringland (aka The Unifactor) for themselves.

  • Keith
    2019-01-09 10:36


  • David Schaafsma
    2019-01-19 07:37

    A pair with another book, Fran, and this is a Frank book. Others have written more detailed reviews but this is surreally inventive, possibly hallucinogenic, mythical, magical, somewhat disturbing, impressively rendered, wordless. I have been revisiting Michael DeForge's works this past week and thought I would read Congress and Fran. Crazy books, and yet there are human dimensions we see in them we don't otherwise see as much in earlier works.

  • Morgan
    2019-01-22 05:42

    Called phantasia or inner sense, the sidereal spirit transforms messages from the five senses in phantasms perceptible to the soul. For the soul cannot grasp anything that is not converted into a sequence of phantasms, in short, it can understand nothing without phantasms (aneu phantasmatos).

  • Sam Quixote
    2018-12-27 10:02

    Frank's house is destroyed after a freak polo accident, causing him to get a job at a factory to pay the costs of rebuilding it. But that wouldn't make an interesting book would it? Frank escapes and sets out on a journey of exploration of the wonderfully weird world of the Unifactor and falls in love. Jim Woodring's follow up to the successful "Weathercraft" is another wordless, charmingly illustrated, surreal trip of a comic book. Everyone seems to be a strange monster and the further Frank delves into the Unifactor (the world Woodring created where all of his books take place in) the more confusing and bizarre the events unfolding become. Woodring's style of highly detailed black and white drawings are gorgeous to look at and the story of someone leaving home and finding their place in the world, while as old as time, is given new life in this strange new world. If you've read "Weathercraft" or Woodring's "Frank" books you'll know what to expect and "Congress of the Animals" is as good as anything he's done previously. If you're new, be prepared to be bamboozled and fascinated by the uniqueness of the Unifactor. Strange but beautiful, it's an interesting comic book that underlines how different Jim Woodring is from other comic book artists out there at the moment.

  • Mike Carey
    2018-12-26 07:56

    I'm normally a little wary of totally silent comic books. There are very few people who can pull off that trick of creating a compelling and engaging story with no words at all. Jim Woodring is one of those people, and his protagonist Frank (an anthropomorphic creature who looks a little like a cat) is a wonderful creation. Frank lives in a world of inexplicable perils and arbitrary disasters, and he's largely unable to impose himself on events. He just moves from one crisis to the next, resigned to his suffering, until life finally gives him love instead of lemons. That's the plot, insofar as there is one. But the beauties of the book lie in the details and the indelible atmosphere, two parts menace to one part whimsy. It's like nothing so much as the storyboard for a movie-length cartoon directed by David Lynch!

  • Derek Royal
    2019-01-23 03:34

    This is a great book, and one I've had for awhile and has been sitting on my "to read" stack. Now that Fran has just been released, I thought it the perfect opportunity to finally get to Congress of the Animals. This book would have been enjoyable on its own, certainly, but within the context of Fran, it probably reads even better. (I wouldn't know how it read by itself, without immediately preceding Fran, since I didn't read it when it first came out.) Now I'm sorry I didn't pick this one up earlier, especially when it came out in 2011. I liked Weathercraft, Woodring's last book of this sort, but this one's even better.

  • First Second Books
    2018-12-27 09:49


  • Nate D
    2019-01-23 04:04

    Not quite as good as the shorter stories, I think, which tend to be more focused and elemental, somehow both clearer and less clear than this one, to me, but hard not to be amazed by regardless.

  • Blackout
    2019-01-09 04:53

    Absolutely Amazing and Beautiful in every respect...the closer you look - the more there is to see. Beyond words.

  • Tom
    2019-01-20 08:54

    First-rate art, with Woodring's usual dream-like scenes and wordless storytelling. Could Bill Frisell please write a score for this book?

  • Zac
    2019-01-07 06:36

    This is my first foray into the weird world of Jim Woodring. The art was pretty spectacular, and the story very strange and psychedelic and a bit disturbing but occasionally cute. I love the expressions of the characters. I don't know what it all means, but it's probably something worth re-reading on a lazy Sunday arvo. I'll have to track down 'Frank' next.

  • Jeff Lewonczyk
    2019-01-08 05:46

    Uncanny and ineffable, like everything Woodring does.

  • Jeff
    2018-12-24 05:44

    4.5starsDo you like weirdness? (note: very positive connotation in my lexicon) Do you enjoy comics? Do you confidently process non-linguistic visual information? Did you answer "yes" to at least 2 of the first 3 questions? Then absorb this book with your eyes cuz you can't read it if it ain't got no words.Ah, but Congress of the Animals is a drastic departure from The Frank Book's wordlessness. Woodring either agreed to let the publisher combine words with his pictures or he provided words for his pictures. Nontraditionally, of course. The inside dust jacket contains a plot synopsis, the back dust jacket provides allusive quotes, and the back cover displays an eloquent caption beneath 20 panel-ettes. I could kiss whoever made this possible because i would've inferred nothing even remotely specific from "something too attractive to resist and too exalted to possess" and "affectless hardware intended to introduce lost souls to false reality."Of the Frank comics i've seen, this is the most accessible, but my brief review of Weathercraft still applies: i want a roomfull of smart people to help me understand it fully.In Comics Journal's interview with Woodring ("The Mind of a Worldly Man Is Like a Fly"), he says, "you start using words and people apply to them whatever meanings their prejudices dictate. Images are less open to interpretation in a way." Alas, i cannot interpret pictures clearly. Especially the more ornate ones. And the absence of colors other than black&white confounds me further. "Conjoined battling monsters seeking a voluntary merger through enforced separation"? If they hadn't put that text below that picture, i'd've thought the text didn't belong with this book because i could only see 1 creature battling Frank in those scenes.I gotta buy Fran cuz none of the libraries around here have it. I oughta buy Weathercraft and this one while i'm at it. Maybe you should do the same.

  • Abe Something
    2019-01-07 09:01

    Possibly the most accessible of Woodring's work. This does not mean interpreting the text is easier, but following the sequential narrative isn't too challenging. I'd like to reread "Weathercraft" because I've either gotten more accustomed to reading Woodring's work, or he his storytelling has improved. One of us grew, likely both of us grew. I don't intend to say anything about the story. It would be unfair to everyone involved. Let's just say that should you read "Congress of Animals" read it multiple times. Each time spend more time reading it. There are several passages in this book, as there always are in Frank books, that require a lot more unpacking in order to fully grasp the aims of the text. Woodring's panels operate in a manner some readers of comics might find unfamiliar. This is because he isn't a lazy writer. There is the action that moves the story forward (Simple), the action/image that makes meaning (Descriptive), and there is the image that creates ambiguity (Mystical) - often times, you will find all of this at work in one panel. [I don't feel settled on those three element's of a Woodring panel, but something like this is at work in his panels. Perhaps one of the elements is mislabeled - I'm open to suggestions. But that Woodring's works can be read/misread in different ways isn't simply due to them being silent, and thus open to interpretation.]

  • Álvaro
    2019-01-10 07:47

    Un comic sin diálogos ni textos, aparentemente silente, porque la ausencia de palabras y el estilo gráfico de J.W. detonan cientos de sonidos. Viscosidades sonoras, así lo sentí, como el sonido que produce el pisar un pulpo con unas botas pesadas o el de un pulpo cuando lo lanzas contra una pared, pensé mucho en pulpos, aunque nunca he visto uno. También hay sonidos mas corrientes, cuando Frank dibuja se siente el trazo del lápiz y se escucha un alarido ensordecedor cuando su chica le ha dejado. Alguien mencionó que Bill Frisell debería hacer la banda sonora para este comic. Nunca lo había escuchado, busqué y me aburrió bastante. Creo que vale la pena leerlo en silencio, es divertido, porque además de sentir e imaginar sonidos también se piensa en la música. Mi propuesta de banda sonora es > The cheap suit serenaders/Stars of the lid/Man is the bastard/Boredoms solo hay presupuesto para una sola banda le apuesto a Bordems :)

  • Garrett Zecker
    2018-12-26 07:59

    A beautiful postmodern examination of existence in a psychedelic universe that often makes no sense, but one we must battle through indefinitely.This gorgeous book, expertly and beautifully printed by Fantagraphic, features Frank in his most baffling adventure through the Unifactor that showcases a realistic life experience in the most unrealistic circumstances. There is love, deities, the most mundane and the most adventurous self, the futility of modern life in the face of materialism and comfort, the disgusting nature of our existence and wanting to embrace others and embrace differences…. This book has so much communicated in vivid and mind-bending illustrations that it is really difficult to explain and explore the many facets of the narrative and our characters.Simply put, this book is genius.Very enjoyable and engaging, I would recommend anyone to pick this Frank book up as a strong education and introduction to Woodring’s work. I began with reading Weathercraft, which was a bit too heavy, but this is a beautiful, complete, and engaging piece that showcases Woodring’s indelible imagery and strong thematic statements in every single frame.

  • Slap Happy
    2019-01-18 07:38

    I loved the fact that this was a wordless comic. Often, I will read comics and think about how much better off it would have been if the author had not stuck his superfulous word graffiti on the page. Writer/illustrators in particular: the one-man shows. They are illustrators, first and foremost. I wish they would trust in their abilities as visual storytellers but more often than not we associate words with depth and so they compromise their strengths on the altar of words yet again. And you might think Woodring hadn't made such comprises judging by the actual comic itself, that is, until you look at the back of the hardback, or on the insides of the dust jacket. The "synopsis" lays out practically the whole comic in words. The back has a "key" of sorts with captions for like twenty scenes from beginning to end (a huge no-no for me). Once the tyranny of those captions are read their influence on my experience was unassailable. Anything I might have felt for this comic was ruined as it struck me hard on the nose, repeatedly.

  • Si Barron
    2019-01-09 04:39

    Can't really claim to have read this as it consists entirely of pictures. I'd never experienced Jim Woodrings crazy cat 'Frank' before, but I saw a repro of a short piece in some book and I thought: This is the kind of weirdness I like; so I went out and got this one.There's no rhyme or reason in Frank's world: weirdness happens and he copes as best he can. In this episode Frank's house is swallowed and he gets into debt building another which causes him to flee his homeland.The entities he meets over the sea are diverse and perculiar- in some cases stomach-churningly weird; but he finally comes up trumps winning the love-interest who travels home with him.It's hard to convey the strangeness that Woodring's intensely beautiful, woodcut-like drawings provoke. This world is a real one-off and a delight to experience.

  • Callie Rose Tyler
    2019-01-21 09:42

    What did I just 'read'. This is a wordless book and takes about 10-15 minutes to get through depending on how long it takes you to 'admire' the artwork, I personally would have preferred it in color. Then towards the middle this got weird, very very weird. EwwwI enjoyed the whimsy.[image error]But some parts just left me scratching my head.[image error]Overall, it was interesting simply because of the strangeness. I thought I might be missing something so I read about the book...nope what you see is what you get.

  • Steve
    2019-01-02 03:03

    Could this be an upbeat Frank book? Maybe. Funny and possibly more direct than other outings, I found this book read like a 'what-if' comic: satisfying and fun in and of itself, for itself, but somewhat 'light'. I'm still unsure why I feel that way, or, indeed, if I'll feel that way on subsequent readings. That said, this effort contains one of my favorite Woodring sequences ever: the horrific faceless naked men in their obscene sculpture garden made me lose my shit. I read it several times. I wanted the entire thing tattooed on my back for a hot second.What makes Jim Woodring one of my favorite authors is that I can read as much or as little into this stuff as I want. He's some distorted shape of a brain bodhisattva.

  • Digi Munoz
    2019-01-24 09:39

    I bought a collection that put together four of these frank books. It was published in Japanese, but as here is no writing or words, it was fine for me to read. The imagination in these stories is great, improbable events, dangerous enemies, cruelty, love and anger. The first few stories had me confused, but it was as if the more I read, the more I was drawn into their world, and I stopped trying to understand what was happening, and just accepted it as reality. Some of the stories are cruel, particularly the handling of Manhog. I'd be interested to read an interpretation of this universe, and then go through these books again.

  • Jeff
    2019-01-07 08:56

    As with last year's Weathercraft, Jim Woodring has delivered another book-length novel set in his imaginary world of the Unifactor, and this time around, the focus is all on his best-known character, the anthropomorphic Frank. Once again, the narrative lacks any dialogue, but certainly does not lack for mystery, adventure, and visual splendor. And better yet, Frank finds a love interest this time around! Woodring's work is so unique that it makes no sense to try and articulate exactly what happens in these pages, but suffice to say that his work is as brilliant as ever, and he continues to expand the definition of just what it is possible to express in the graphic novel format.

  • sucker4synth
    2019-01-01 10:50

    Surreal landscapes reminiscent of '60s comix with cute Disney/Fleischer-esque characters wandering around the strangeness. Frank is a chipmunk/rodent creature. He has adventures in oddity and never really learns a lesson. I am a big fan of his little ham-shaped pets. The pig person is totally creepy. These wordless tales make for a quick read if you don't stare at the pictures too long. An incredible amount of time and depth went into making these comics. While I may not have much of a sure idea as to what has happened in each one, it's an awesome ride.

  • Whatsupchuck
    2019-01-04 04:34

    A silent comic.I have just discovered Woodring and have so far read this and two other works. Congress of the Animals is my favorite so far.I am quite at a loss as to how to describe what populates the pages within. Surreal, uncanny, terrifying, goofy - these are all true, but only scratch the surface.If I'm going to recommend a Woodring to anyone who has never before experienced his craft, this would be the one.

  • The_Mad_Swede
    2019-01-15 10:37

    This is my first encounter with both Jim Woodring's comics work and his character Frank, even though both have been on my radar for a long time. Woodring is clearly a very talented and strange man, given this extended silent comic, which straddles the line between the surreal and the absurd. It is a strange, yet rewarding, read; and I come away from it with the knowledge that I will be returning to Woodring to sample more of his material.

  • Geoff Sebesta
    2018-12-28 06:46

    The rich strangeness of previous works has been replaced with a well-worked out artistic aesthetic that's used to say nothing much. Boy loses house, boy gets job, boy goes on quest, boy meets girl. That's the whole book. Maybe if I had invested a lot of time in Woodring and Frank I would enjoy this lightweight excursion, but all I'm seeing something that used to be dangerous.

  • Jesse
    2019-01-01 09:59

    Morality play meets Salvador Dali in this graphic novel sans text. Filling in for the silence can be easy at times; the facial expressions and gestures go a long way to help us follow the action and the attitudes. At other times, the metaphors are a dense forest with strange and unfriendly beasts.

  • Sonic
    2019-01-24 05:50

    Words fail to describe the beauty, the originality, or the strangeness of these wonderful, surreal, meta-poems of life!Even though I love the color in some of his earlier works, these last two books from Jim Woodring (Weathercraft, and Congress of the Animals) are probably his strongest works yet. These are high works of art!