Gahan Wilson was, in many respects, the ideal cartoonist for distinctive, wild and funny cartoons in the leading magazines of the day, National Lampoon, Playboy, and The New Yorker. I just got news of his passing. I had donated to a GoFundMe campaign for his care and received updates from his son, Paul Winters. The announcement begins: “The world has lost a legend. One of the very best cartoonists to ever pick up a pen and paper has passed on. He went peacefully – surrounded by those who loved him. ” Since I do my best to travel in various relevant circles, I did end up having the pleasure of meeting Gahan Wilson. I was in that famous green room that The New Yorker kept as a holding pen for cartoonists awaiting to see the legendary cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, back when The New Yorker was located in rather cramped, but thoroughly charming, offices in Times Square. So, I kept putting off going in to see Bob since I wanted to soak up the atmosphere. I got a chance to chat a bit with old-timers and new emerging talent. As an artist-writer-cartoonist, I was there with a legitimate batch of cartoons but I was mostly there just to be there since a visit to New York wasn’t something I did regularly. Anyway, there was Gahan Wilson. He was quietly seated on one of the big sofas. This was circa 2005. Gahan smiled and asked to see my cartoons. He nodded and picked out the ones he liked. “Good luck, kid,” he said. It was shortly after those words of encouragement that another cartoonist suggested I should go in before I missed my chance. For some reason, there was no list. You just went in. Very informal. So, I went in and Bob was Bob. In other words, he batted me around like a piñata. Before I knew it, I was done. In the end, Bob offered words of encouragement too. After that, I took one last look over to the green room. Gahan was there, smiling, very quiet, observing as a good cartoonist does, probably thinking up his next deliciously diabolical and weird cartoon. Oh, I had signed a waiver when I had first arrived. Apparently, I had picked the day that a documentary on Gahan Wilson was being filmed. It was released in 2013, Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird. And, if you happen to see it, you’ll see me in Bob’s office getting a thrashing, all in good fun, but a thrashing none the less. Funny thing is that I didn’t mind it at all, which is what a good cartoonist does. And how can one complain when in the presence of such greats as Bob Mankoff and Gahan Wilson? You just don’t. You’re grateful for the moment in this fleeting life. Rest in peace, Gahan.
Category Archives: Gahan Wilson
Gahan Wilson. You know that name. Only a few cartoonists rank as high as Mr. Wilson. His distinctive quirky cartoons graced the pages of Playboy for over 50 years. He was also a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The National Lampoon, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and many other publications. Gahan Wilson is in urgent need of a memory care facility. This is a very challenging time for his family. Please consider making a donation to a GoFundMe campaign you can visit right here.
From Gahan Wilson’s stepson, Paul Winters:
Gahan is suffering from severe dementia. We have helped him through the stages of the disease and he is currently not doing very well.
My mother, and his wife of fifty-three years, Nancy Winters, passed away on March 2, 2019. She was his rock. His guide through the world. While we all helped with his care, it was my mother who grounded him. He is currently distraught and out of sorts with the world.
Memory care is needed immediately. Gahan and my mother had been residing in an assisted living facility in Arizona. With my mother’s passing, the facility is about to discharge him. We must find him a memory care facility immediately. Memory care is wildly expensive. More so than assisted living. If we could cover the cost ourselves, we would. We can’t, and Gahan and my mother did not save for anything like this. We are asking his fans to help us, help Gahan.
Visit GoFundMe and help one of our great cartoonists find his way: Help with Cartoonist Gahan Wilson’s Memory Care at GoFundMe.
“We’re going all the way!” says filmmaker Steven-Charles Jaffe about his fundraising campaign in support of his documentary on master cartoonist Gahan Wilson, “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird.”
Beginning on Sunday, August 18, 2013, at noon PST, fundraising for the documentary resumes after the Kickstarter effort.
Many of the original pledgers are now renewing their pledges on the official “Born Dead, Still Weird” website which you can visit here.
From the “Born Dead, Still Weird” site:
We have launched this new funding website for our ACADEMY AWARD® campaign to enable all of you awesome supporters to renew your pledges and receive your rewards.
Please browse through our rewards and choose one or more. Note: some previously listed rewards have changed, so take a look and choose one or more. There is also the option to make a pledge without a reward. You can purchase using Paypal or credit card.
The reasons we need your help remain the same. We’re in a tough race to get the documentary submitted to the Academy® so we must reach our goal of $26,000 by Monday September 16.
Thanks again for your continued enthusiasm and support. We will do this!
“If Crumb can have a documentary, then so can Gahan Wilson!” The decision had been made.
Gahan Wilson is a force of nature. And so is filmmaker Steven-Charles Jaffe. Wilson found in Jaffe someone who would do justice to his legendary career that spans over 50 years of cartoons for The New Yorker, Playboy, and National Lampoon. Who else even comes close to such an output? That’s why a documentary had to be made. It is called, “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird.” Yes, you read that right, “Born Dead, Still Weird,” and it is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign that you can join here.
It was upon seeing “Crumb,” Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 documentary on underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, that Jaffe resolved he needed to create a similarly worthy documentary of his friend and idol, Gahan Wilson. The idea of Jaffe and Wilson working together had already been kicking around for a few years. One plan that continues to interest them is a feature length animated movie based on Wilson’s illustrated book, “Eddy Deco’s Last Caper.” Jaffe and director Nicholas Meyer have approached IMAX about the project so we shall see. A Gahan Wilson animated movie in 3-D would be worth the wait.
For a taste of what it’s like for Wilson and Jaffe to work together, you can view the 2008 animated short, “It Was a Dark and Silly Night.” A story about children determined to have a jello war, even if it’s in a cemetery, this animated short is based on a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Gathan Wilson for an illustrated anthology, compiled and edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, “Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night.”
There is so much to a Gahan Wilson cartoon: it is entertaining, memorable, scary, and above all else, it won’t let go. “I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a Gahan Wilson cartoon that relates right back to his own life.” Jaffe makes the observation with awe and admiration. An artist of the caliber of Wilson has both a keen sense of whimsy and a backbone made of steel. He was a child of two out of control alcoholic parents. For him, he had to grow up fast while holding on ever tighter to his dreams.
The dream behind “Born Dead, Still Weird” is to give it as wide an audience as possible. Much in the same way that “Crumb” was transcendent, so too this documentary aims to show you the real man and artist. “That’s what struck such a chord with people, to see Robert Crumb on a human level,” says Jaffe. Both Crumb and Wilson climbed their ways out of adversity to unprecedented success. If Jaffe can accomplish his goal of stirring up the pot and getting his documentary considered for an Academy Award nomination, it will go a long way in securing a high profile for “Born Dead, Still Weird.” The essential stage, getting the documentary made is done. But the last stage, marketing and distribution, and just making sure the documentary is known about, is still ahead.
Jaffe recalls the kind words from Robert Redford in support of “Born Dead, Still Weird.” After viewing it, Redford wrote back to Jaffe, “I’m a huge proponent of art not only getting into the educational system but for its ability to save some lives and enhance some lives. It is a fine piece of work and I thank you.” Saving lives. What a joy to be able to make such a difference. This is something that has genuinely stuck with Jaffe. He’s the first to say that he did not set out to make an inspirational film and yet Gahan’s life attracts just that.
From Jaffe’s first encounter with a Gahan Wilson cartoon in Playboy at the tender age of 10, up to today, Jaffe’s felt his own life enriched by Wilson. “He is a total nonconformist,” Jaffe says with delight. In a world where being different can have harsh consequences, as with bullies in school, Gahan Wilson is a shining example of someone who is going to live his life his way.
I hope you enjoy the podcast below that includes the entire interview with Steven-Charles Jaffe. Just click below:
Be sure to stop by and visit the Kickstarter campaign for “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird” right here.
The New Yorker gag cartoon is quite a unique creature. It comes in many flavors, the best being “strange.” The master of strange is Gahan Wilson. It’s quite a blend that has been published for the last 50 years in The New Yorker, Playboy, and National Lampoon. His work takes you to a dark place while putting a smile on your face. It’s not an easy thing to do. I remember, as a kid in the ’70s, attracted to all kinds of comics that unveiled a mysterious world, one often made up of hapless adults. God help anyone seeking answers from a Gahan Wilson cartoon–but it helped me! I’m not sure how but it did. In order to celebrate and better understand Gahan Wilson, and his amazing work, Filmmaker Steven-Charles Jaffe created a documentary, “Born Dead, Still Weird,” which is currently part of a Kickstarter campaign (runs thru August 17) that you can view here.
A funny thing happened on the way to somewhere else. I literally stepped into the “Born Dead, Still Weird” documentary some years back. I happened to be in town and I dropped by The New Yorker offices to show a batch of my cartoon gags. Little did I know that Gahan Wilson was in the green room, along with all the regular contributors, awaiting an audience with Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor for The New Yorker. Now, I’m from Seattle, so it wasn’t like a usual thing. I kept putting off my visit to the editor’s office because I was so enthralled and wanted to make the moment last. I remember signing a waiver, just in case my interview with Bob Mankoff was used in the film. I was invited back to continue to submit work. I left, had lunch, and continued with my life. And I always wondered about this documentary!
Now, we come to the good part. We fans of comics and art and wonderful things love Gahan Wilson and his work. We want this documentary to succeed in a very big way. If it can fulfill the requirements necessary to be considered for an Academy Award nomination, then that will be a big leap forward to getting everyone to know about this documentary. The current Kickstarter campaign is all about meeting the criteria for nomination and that primarily involves renting movie theaters for special screenings. You can read all about it at the Kickstarter campaign here.
An Academy Award nomination alone is a huge deal and “Born Dead, Still Weird” is a perfect candidate for Best Documentary. Let’s all do what we can to see this campaign get funded.