Singing the Praises of Cartoonist Gahan Wilson in Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird


In this entertaining documentary, the coolest kids in town sing the praises of cartoonist Gahan Wilson, whose work is a brilliant fusion of the personal and the political.

Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and a moving, personally revealing Stephen Colbert track Wilson’s influence on their own work. Many first encountered Wilson’s work in the pages of Playboy magazine, where he’s been a regular for 50 years, or in National Lampoon, which published the artist’s devastating Vietnam-era cartoons.

Director Steven-Charles Jaffe, making his feature debut, fills the screen with a steady succession of Wilson drawings, the origins of which the artist connects to his own life, particularly his emotionally treacherous childhood.

In footage that appears to have been shot in 2006, Jaffe pulls off a major coup: His camera is allowed in the offices of the New Yorker as cartoon editor Robert Mankoff conducts his weekly open call for cartoonists.

Mankoff pulls no punches, not even for a magazine vet such as Wilson, who takes Mankoff’s rejection of his latest ‘toons in stride. For the artist, still going strong at 83, the world remains a bounty of great material. He’ll be back.