Onion AV Club interviews cartoonist Jim Woodring

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Jim Woodring says: "The Onion AV Club pried all kinds of words out of my unwilling mouth with the skill of a tenured, ten-armed shucker."

(I highly recommend Woodring's new graphic novel Weathercraft, which is not only stranger than you think, but stranger than you can think.)

AVC: A documentary about your life and work, The Lobster And The Liver, premièred recently in Seattle. How did it feel to have someone approach you about such a project?

JW: Like a lot of freelance cartoonists, when any opportunity like that comes along, I have a hard time saying no, whether it makes sense or not. I was flattered that these Canadian filmmakers wanted to make this film. I acquiesced, but after that, I think I made it kind of hard for them. They had an artistic approach that they wanted to use, and I really didn't want to do that. I guess I just wanted them to film me talking and show my work, and if they wanted to interview other people, then do that too. But I resisted their attempts to kind of set up tableaus and situations. If they were filming me at a public event, they'd want me to go around a corner, count to 10, and walk into the store as if they'd just captured me doing it. I refused to do that. It's hard enough for me to walk down the street anyway, and to pretend that I'm just nonchalantly walking around the corner into a building, I just couldn't do it. I would feel too weird, and it would show on the screen.

I think that left them at loose ends as to how to approach it. The first filming started five years ago, and it's been finished for a year or two, so they persevered. I've heard from people who have seen it that it's a fairly accurate portrait of me. I've also heard it's an unflattering portrait of me, which is probably good. I think you have to be suspicious of anything that makes someone look too good. It makes me cringe to think about it, not because I think it will be a bad film or anything, but because I'm already self-conscious enough. I've seen a couple intermediary versions of it, but I've never seen the final product, and I probably never will. It's very hard for me to watch myself onscreen. It's hard for me to even contemplate.

Jim Woodring interview