R.I.P.: Gahan Wilson

This is a nicely balanced obit that underscores his range of outlets. I’ll try to add more to this post after I revisit his work in the books I have.

Very worthty selection of cartoons.

The earliest of my Wilson books is the 1965 Ace paperback Gahan Wilson’s Graveside Manner (going for $100 on Amazon), which I know I bought because it so reminded me of another recent paperback discovery, Charles Addams.

My go-to Gahan collection is 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons (classy reproductions, paid big bucks for them and so worked damn hard, and, well, Playboy has to have a few claims on quality cartoons other than the stupid sexist stuff). I’ve run across what I think is the perfect image of the transition from Addams to Wilson in the second picture he sold to the magazine (March, 1958).

Wilson #1.jpg

Very Addams, yes, but with a strange, unfathomable cosmic oddness that was very Wilson.

Next, you gotta love the ahead-of-its-time morbid psychology of toys imprisoned in the attic planning “someday he’ll get nostalgic and come up here and then we’ll get him!” (The original Playboy version is much more sinister than the image used on the cover of the book of the same name.)

Another advance from Addams is that he was clearly a ’20s-’30s horror-movie guy and Wilson was steeped in those monster flicks from ’40s-’60s.

Weellll, can’t find an image anywhere, but I’ve always suspected that a Playboy Gahan from August, 1969 was at least one of the inspirations for Alien. (A cartoon head pops up out of a patient on the operating table.)




What To Do with Evil Cartoons?

Here’s a good selection of the banned from Warer Bros. (Gawd, the last one is particularly disgusting — Bugs, you moved closer to my shitlist.)

I think people have to have access to these horrid works because they have to understand how popular culture once presented itself and later improved. And operations like Disney and Warner Bros. have to come up with more sophisticated and public explanations of their products. They are worth long, thoughtful, documentaries — not hiding them away.

I agree they shouldn’t be thrown out there for everybody including kids to see. But there must be a way to look at them easily and understand why they happened.

The Most Fundamental Daffy Duck Cartoon

Mr. Tex Avery at his finest — working with Mel Blanc to bring the crazed subconscious of the United States (gun murder and all) into frantic moving drawings on a big screen.

Should add the following to explain some details that are now hopelessly lost to time: