Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Nothing Sacred? by Gahan Wilson

Gahan Wilson is one of the great cartoonists of the 20th century, period. (And he's still around, so he counts for this one as well.) This is a large-format collection of his cartoons, published by St. Martin's Press/Marek in 1982, which I found, for some inexplicable reason, as if it were a new book at the Strand earlier this summer.

The title cartoon of this book, as I think I've said before, is one of my favorites as well -- it's a bit less ghoulish and dark than usual for Wilson, but still has his distinctive wit.

There are very few single-panel cartoonists who are completely themselves, owing nothing to any others. Besides Wilson, John Callahan is the only one who comes immediately to mind. Sure, there are other fine single-panel cartoonists, even great cartoonists, but they're all working in veins established by others, and doing work that others could do, more or less. The few really original talents, like Wilson and Callahan (maybe Sam Gross is a third), create cartoons that no one else would have ever thought of. And, in Wilson's case, he can draw them in a way no one else would have thought of. He's a treasure, if a creepy, uneasy-making one, and I hope he lives and works well past a hundred.

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