Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days by Al Columbia

Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days
by Al Columbia
Fantagraphics, 2009

A terrifying assemblage of ten years’ worth of unfinished Pim & Francie comics. The stories of two trusting little waifs play out like a perverse Merrie Melodies cartoon, or Little Nemo in Slumberland with the constant threat of dismemberment. The pages are presented as-is, which means partially-inked pencils and alternate sketches, with the occasional splotch and rip thrown in. Some of the pages seem to have been torn up in disgust and then reassembled.

The stories flow surprisingly well despite constant reminders of their artifice, which actually contributes to their nightmarish tone. It’s also an interesting look at Columbia’s working methods. His superficially-cute artwork comes from the same unsettled place as Jim Woodring, like a ’30s animation studio with a lead-contaminated watercooler.


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