Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird, an award-winning documentary about the cartoonist noted for mingling horror with humor, opens at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills on November 22.
Chosen as Best Documentary at the San Diego Comic-Con Independent Film Festival and designated a Critic’s Pick by Daniel M. Gold of the New York Times, the film traces the 83-year-old Wilson’s inspirations, the inner workings of the cartoon world, and the legion of fans who love his quirky creations – including a long list of celebrities who appear on camera: Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Randy Newman, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Roz Chast, Lewis Black, Hugh M. Hefner, David Remnick, Peter Straub, and Nicholas Meyer.
Gold’s review begins with examples of Wilson’s unforgettable images —
Escalators that eat people; a human sacrifice amid backyard barbeques. In any pantheon of cartoonists, Gahan Wilson and his uniquely mordant sense of humor fit somewhere between Charles Addams and Gary Larson. Armed with a perverse comedic view of the monsters behind every corner and an illustration style that hits with the thwack of a nightmare, Mr. Wilson has been reassuring his readers for more than 50 years that things really are as bad as they seem, probably worse.
Steven-Charles Jaffe tells why he made the movie in a self-interview on the film’s website.
I was ten years old when I saw my first Gahan Wilson cartoon. It rocked my pre-pubescent brain. It was eye candy for the demented. I became obsessed with his cartoons; the lurid colors, the dark and twisted point of view, and the asymmetrical way he drew people and the world they inhabited. I had no idea who this Wilson fellow was, or how to pronounce his first name, but I felt I had discovered a kindred spirit. Over the years, my love of Gahan’s work only increased.
After becoming a producer, I was obsessed with trying to meet the mysterious cartoonist to see if there was some way of bringing his work to the big screen. I finally met Gahan Wilson and we struck up a friendship that continues to this day. After seeing the documentary on cartoonist Robert Crumb, I decided I had to make a documentary about Gahan so that the rest of the world would realize what a national treasure and a truly inspiring artist he is.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]