Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird (2009) - screening at the 2011 San Diego Comic Convention

Still image from Gahan Wilson: Born Dead Still Weird
Still image from Gahan Wilson: Born Dead Still Weird

The screening of GAHAN WILSON: BORN DEAD, STILL WEIRD was a wonderful way to end off the 2011 San Diego Comic Convention in my humble opinion! This was the last event on the 5th & final day of the comic con that I attended besides foraging into the abyss of the exhibit floor to pick up the remaining pieces! I should stress that this was MY final event & not THE final event of comic con! BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER musical (Once more with feeling episode) was to be the closing ceremony which my amigos from Team Planet Chocko descended on like hungry vultures, singing & dancing their hearts out!

Getting back to Gahan Wilson, this documentary pays homage to the unique works of this legendary cartoonist & gives a great deal of insight on the nuts and bolts of his psyche which would further explain his method to the madness expressed throughout his artwork! I would describe Gahan as an artist with a punk rock like attitude inflamed with a tai chi state of mind! His cartoons would give us a glimpse of the roots of his frustrations growing up as a kid and his battle with constant paranoia which shows us how horrifying the other side of his reality was. A tough up bringing by his parents would further cement his twisted outlook in life. Gahan Wilson’s illustration style can be described as playful, dark humor filled with monsters, ghouls, & vampires wrapped in contemporary satire! Wilson made it a point through his comics to question authority with no political correctness whatsoever and take no prisoners attitude! He is well known for his cartoons in Playboy, The New Yorker, & National Lampoon. Gahan would also create ecological cartoons filled with satire in order to poke fun on what a horrible joke our environment is becoming due to greed. He would describe himself as a half ass buddhist as he practices tai chi to find peace within himself. Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Guillermo Del Toro, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, & Hugh Heffner to name a few, will make a few sentiments describing Mr. Wilson and his contribution towards americana! This documentary would serve as a celebration for a legendary american cartoon artist but most importantly, tells a tale of his struggles within himself that would give birth to his radical creations of sick, twisted, & hellish art which many of us can relate to but could never manifest on paper like Gahan Wilson can! Gahan makes weird seem more normal! You are not alone, sir! The movie would cover the highlights from his first cartoon art sold to Ziff Davis for $7.50 to his current battles of trying to sell his illustrations to the New Yorker with many rejections abound. While this documentary is celebratory in nature, it also invoked a sad feeling in me as well. It really seemed that the film was going to lead me up to the death of the subject because Gahan was talking about how much weirder it was to grow old, much much stranger than he perceived it would be. He also mentioned that most adults let themselves go dead. He told a quick story about a mom & a dad tugging their young child by their side entering the main lobby of Grand Central Station in New York City. The parents were in a rush to get to the gates but the child screamed in amazement while he gazed at the zodiac sky ceiling in the lobby! Gahan Wilson seemed to yearn for that same feeling as that kid in Grand Central Station as opposed to that ho-hum attitude of adults who lost the zing for life! I guess life does come full circle for all of us at some point. But for now, Gahan Wilson is: Born Dead, Still Weird! Lets celebrate this man’s wonderful creations while he is still weird & alive as he ogles upon that zodiac sky at Grand Central Station!

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