Sunday, October 18, 2009

Early George Wunder

Okay, George Wunder fans, today I've got a treat for both of you! Here's some comic strip work by Wunder in the years and weeks leading up to his taking over the Terry and the Pirates comic strip from Milton Caniff.

This first sample appeared sometime between July 1, 1941 and June 30, 1943. I couldn't find an exact date.

This one is dated July 27, 1946. One can see the early rendering of a master wrinkle artist. In the first panel it appears that Wunder has already been studying Caniff's Third World characters.

The final sample shown here appeared October 6, 1946 and I would guess that by this time he was well into working on Terry. Wunder's first Terry appeared December 30, 1946.

I read Wunder's Terry when I was a kid and even then was impressed by all the work he put into it. Every single panel was fully loaded with detailed backgrounds and detailed wrinkles, costumes and hairs, even on all the characters in the background, all the woodgrain in all the wood, and all those black shadows that lent an air of foreboding to each panel. I could never get over his 3/4 rear view of a character's eyeball straining to see something behind him. And all those overly bridged noses on both guys and gals all crying out for rhinoplasty. For many years I resented the overloaded panels and decided I didn't like Wunder's rendering of Terry and the Pirates.

It was only in the last few years that I came to appreciate Wunder's work on Terry. One day I realized that he never cheated. He gave us everything in infinite detail in every panel and never deprived us of any wrinkles, bricks, tiles, leaves, woodgrain, fingernails, hairs, cloth patterns or buttons. Yeah, the look-alike facial features of all his characters in the later years of Terry was stylistic and bothersome, but he never cheated.

George Wunder was born April 24, 1912 and died December 13, 1987.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Sergio Aragon├ęs Museum Show and BBQ

Ojai, California, is one of those undiscovered places that everyone knows about that hasn't yet been ruined by developers. It's remote, quaint and picturesque with a slow-paced life style perfectly suited to writers, musicians, artists, horses, cows and those lucky enough to be able to work at home and not have to commute. One of the greatest cartoonists in the world lives there and a whole bunch of his friends drove great distances to visit him last week and to see an exhibit of his work that represents a lifetime of laughter, inventiveness and exquisite craftsmanship, not to mention the output equivalent to that of the next five greatest cartoonists in the world, combined.

With the grace of cartoon royalty and the energy of a middle-aged tennis player Sergio Aragon├ęs greeted his friends as they arrived at The Ojai Valley Museum, located about 80 miles north of Los Angeles. With his usual warmth and enthusiasm he flitted through the crowd as they enjoyed the exhibit of his work that spanned five decades. From childhood drawings to his latest contributions to the pages of Mad Magazine, from model ships to religious icons, from awards to Sharpie drawings done right on the walls of the museum, visitors were overwhelmed by his hilarious imagery, brilliant absurdity and sublime creativity that was more than a feast for the eyes. It was an energy boost that challenged you to do more with your own work, and to do it better.

And as if all the smiles, warmth, hugs, stories, artwork, silliness, camaraderie, and overall good cheer wasn't enough, it was all topped off with a terrific BBQ from The Event Caddy, a great catering service that served up Tri tip steak, wonderful chicken, fruit and vegetables, drinks and dessert. Lots of hanging out with old friends, new friends and best of all, Sergio.

Top left: A display of Sergio's home studio with a life-size replica of himself at his drawing board.
Top right: Sergio chatting with Mell Lazarus.
Bottom left: As the sun was beginning to set and the temperatures got comfortable, BBQ was served.
Bottom right: Bill Morrison and Mark Evanier watch a video documentary about Sergio on a TV as others meander through the exhibit.

Top left: Todd Kurosawa, Bill Riling, Scott Shaw.
Top right: Disney Legend Floyd Norman snaps a pic of his wife, Adrienne with Sergio. In the background is Mandy artist Dean Yeagle.
Bottom left: David Folkman and Bill Morrison.
Bottom right: Mell Lazarus, Sergio, Chad Frye, Pat McGreal.

Top left: Chad Frye shows off a quick sketch that Bill Morrison did for him.
Top right: Mell Lazarus and Dean Yeagle.
Middle left: Oh, great, I used this photo twice. Oh, well, enjoy it again. Mell, Sergio, Chad, Pat.
Middle right: Wide shot showing the main show room and a lot of the crowd.
Bottom left: Yeah, yeah, I know. I did it again. The notorious Floyd Norman still snapping a picture of his wife, Adrienne with the notorious Sergio and the truly notorious Dean Yeagle still in the background.
Bottom right: Sergio points out to Bill Morrison and Chad Frye that he was the model for the sketch Bill did in Chad's sketchbook.

There were a lot of photos that came out too blurry to show here, (should have used a flash) and I didn't think it would be appropriate to publish a lot of the artwork that I took pictures of, but there was a lot more to see and do.

A good time was had by all.

CAPS, the Comic Art Professional Society, suggested this event to Sergio and he was gracious enough to arrange the exclusive, after-hours use of the Ojai Valley Museum with the cooperation of the museum and its fantastic staff. Thank you all!