Woodrow Phoenix is a writer, artist, illustrator and graphic designer based in London.
He is known for his free-wheeling experimentation with illustrative and graphic styles, with message-driven pictures offering up an incongruous mix of the cute and the sinister.
His comic books and strips include Donny Digits - a comic strip which appeared weekly in The Guardian; The Sumo Family, which appeared weekly in The Independent on Sunday and then monthly in Manga Mania magazine; The Liberty Cat, published quarterly in Japan by Kodansha in Morning magazine; SugarBuzz! (in collaboration with co-creator Ian Carney), an anthology comic that was optioned for television by Walt Disney, The Cartoon Network and other independent production companies. In 2003 he directed an animated cartoon based on characters from SugarBuzz!, for The Cartoon Network.
His children's books include Baz the Biz (1999)and Is That Your Dog? (2001) with writer Steve May, and Count Milkula (2006) with writer Robin Price.
For his book, Plastic Culture: How Japanese Toys Conquered the World (2006), he interviewed artists and designers in Japan and China and photographed hundreds of vinyl figures, mascots, dolls and collectibles for a critical appraisal of the world of art toys and designer vinyl.
Rumble Strip (2008), pushes the construction and narrative possibilities of the comic strip in an entirely new direction while exploring the complicated psychology of the relationship between people and cars; how we navigate the world and how we relate to each other with and through machines. It was reviewed in The Times as 'One utterly original work of genius. It should be made mandatory reading for everyone, everywhere.'
Woodrow Phoenix recently edited Nelson (2011) with Rob Davis.
The magical quality of the drawn image (ideogram, logo, cartoon, diagram) and the way in which reductive marks can somehow add up to more than just lines fascinates me. A drawing brings a new reality to life which can have incredible resonance considering how simple the tools are. In a way all comics drawing is metaphor, is symbols made into characters. Cartoons and caricatures are ways to reconfigure information. They capture emotion. They represent what is unseen, they 'look how things feel'. I believe there are still huge areas of potential untapped in the comics form, partly because the subject matter has been so constrained by commercial demands that neither creators nor readers were able to imagine where the form could be expanded. I am concerned with finding new ways to make the invisible visible. To bring to conscious attention so much of what passes unseen and unquestioned in everyday life. To examine the ideas that get taken for granted and perhaps find a different way to see what might seem exhausted. Sometimes this just means finding a new way to draw something. Other times it may mean finding a new way to present information. My most recent book, Rumble Strip, uses no characters at all and addresses the reader directly through narrative captions. This approach has not been previously used in a comic book, as far as I know. It seems odd at first but eliminating the fictional construct of a protagonist leads to a more direct and far more visceral experience. Many readers who have little familiarity with the comics medium have been surprised by how effectively this works. As a non-fiction technique it has all kinds of possibilities and it is one direction that I will continue to explore.