Gahan Paints What He Sees!

Another day, another birthday, it would seem. Well, I feel this one’s of particular importance… Gahan Wilson, born February 18, 1930, turns 88 today. As you may know, many an artist burns bright and burns fast, enjoying a peak of a handful of years followed by a settling into habit or mediocrity. That’s not our Mr. Wilson, who’s been prolific, reliable and versatile for over a half-century. That makes him, I suppose, easy to take for granted. Let’s not, shall we?

Most visibly, he’s built up a splendiferous body of work at Playboy, which was collected in exemplary fashion (2010), for your convenience, by the fine folks at Fantagraphics (in case you don’t have room for the entire magazines.) With the possible exception of Shel Silverstein, Gahan was perhaps the only cartoonist Hugh Hefner didn’t habitually encourage to throw in some buxom females.

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« Well, it certainly is nice to know someone’s looking out for us old folks! » (Playboy, November, 1987.)

He’s also been a regular contributor to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction since 1964, again gathered by the reprobates at Fantagraphics, this time in a tome entitled « Gahan Wilson’s Out There » (2016). Significantly, the book includes Wilson’s prose works for the magazine, gems of concision and dark wit.

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Which brings us to another facet of Gahan’s œuvre: his writing. I greatly enjoyed his regular film column in Twilight Zone magazine (1981-89). For the publication’s August, 1985 issue, he provided, in addition to his regular contribution, an eye-catching (watch out!) cover illustration and a feature article « I Hear You Callin’ Cthulhu », a review of the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu. « Hot on the trail of Dagon, the shoggoths, and other Lovecraftian horrors, the noted cartoonist (and intrepid TZ columnist) finds himself drawn into a labyrinth of secret caverns, sinister intruders, tentacled monstrosities — and a terrifying thing called the Insanity Table. »

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« Our intrepid gamesman gathers his courage… »
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« … tests his luck against the dark gods… »
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« … reads his fate in the faces of the dice… »
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« … and when the smoke clears, is seen no more. »

Happy Birthday, and thanks for all the tentacles, Mr. Wilson!

– RG

Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.

A quick post in salute of Hugh Hefner (1926-2017), who truly was a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me, he remains, chief among these, one rare and precious thing: a steadfast, lifelong friend and patron to great cartoonists, a man of taste, at least in that particular area.

Here are a few relevant pieces. Mere drops in the bottomless bucket. All in good time, we’ll return to this topic.

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« I’ve been thrilled by the dazzling breakaway of your four-speed, close-ratio, synchromesh, manual transmission, and the lusty surge of your 315-horsepower, fuel-injection, high-lift cam engine… »

It’s astonishing how much toil an artist will put in, just to sell a simple gag. It doesn’t hurt if he’s recompensed decently, of course. Case in point: Ben Denison, for Playboy Magazine’s November, 1961 issue. Hugh Hefner has always known the value of his contributors, bless his great big heart.

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Erich Sokol (b. Vienna, 1933 – d. Mödling, 2003), originally published in Playboy’s September, 1960 issue.
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« This is nothing, wait until you see the women. »

Dink Siegel (1910-2003), from Playboy’s May, 1968 issue.

Happy trails, dear Mr. Hefner!

– RG