Trosper

Story and Artwork
by Jim Woodring
Musical Soundtrack on accompanying CD
by Bill Frisell

Fantagraphics Books
Hardcover: $14.95

 

Reviewed by Tom Bowden in E.D.:

Although marketed as "children¹s literature," Jim Woodring's Trosper easily transcends that category. (My four-year-old found it eerie; my wife and my 17-year-old found it hilarious.) In 17 wordless illustrations, Woodring tells the story of Trosper, a sort of midget elephant with a human face and a smile of idiot delight just this side of drooling.

Woodring¹s illustrations are fun and surrealistic. Working with a simple palette of perhaps a dozen colors, his backgrounds are composed of neo-Art Deco motifs that retain the curves of Art Deco but not its angles.

Accompanying Woodring's illustrations is a song on CD by guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell's moody, ethereal jazz accompaniment is at odds with the frenetic pace of the illustrations, a tension between the two that heightens the overall effect of the book. (Woodring contributed five illustrations to Frisell's 1998 recording, Gone, Just Like a Train and to his recent collaboration with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones. If illustrations can compliment music, why not write music to compliment illustrations?) Collaborations between art and music have a long, venerable past, with Picasso's set design for one of Stravinsky's ballets and David Hockney's sets for operas being the first examples that come to mind.

Top-notch stuff.