Gahan Wilson (February 18, 1930 – November 21, 2019) was an American cartoonist, and a longtime contributor to both Playboy and The New Yorker magazines, not to mention The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He also drew a Newspaper Comics series, titled simply Gahan Wilson's Sunday Comics, and produced animated inserts for Sesame Street. His subject matter tended heavily toward the grotesque and whimsical.
Although he is usually known for his cartoons, Wilson contributed some book reviews to F&SF, and his story "[The title is an inkblot]" was included in Harlan Ellison's anthology Again, Dangerous Visions. The titular inkblot (which is drawn in his distinctive style) plays an integral part in the story. He also did the illustrations for Roger Zelazny's Nebula Award-nominated novel, A Night in the Lonesome October.
Gahan Wilson works with their own trope pages include:
Wilson's other works provide examples of:
- Adolf Hitlarious: One cartoon he did depicts Adolf Hitler as an old man with crutches being berated for not taking how World War II ended well.Oh, stop bitching about it, will you? It's all been over and done with for years!
- Attack of the Killer Whatever: "Seagulls", as the title suggests, is about a swarm of evil seagulls.
- "Traps" features sentient rats menacing an exterminator.
- Bad Humor Truck: "Mister Ice Cold" features an Ice Cream Man who takes a special interest in his customers.
- Beary Funny: Wrote and illustrated two children's books featuring Harry the Fat Bear Spy in The '70s.
- Body Horror: Gahan loved drawing mutants, aliens, and monsters.
- Botanical Abomination: His short story (The title is an ink blot) stars a rich man who discovers a tiny inkblot on his tablecloth. No matter what the butler tries, he can't clean the inkblot off. Then the inkblot starts moving around when no one is looking. As if that wasn't strange enough, it starts growing larger and forming into a bizarre, plantlike shape. Then it's implied that the inkblot consumes the butler offscreen, and is preparing to eat the rich man next.
- Defanged Horrors: Wilson's macabre-but-silly art style lent itself well to kid-friendly horror. A few of his single-panel cartoons qualify, but the best example is probably the anthology Spooky Stories for a Dark and Stormy Night, which he illustrated.
- Dinner Order Flub: One cartoon shows a patron with an inedible pile of ashes on his plate, while a snooty waiter says, "It's a burnt telephone book. We gave it a fancy French name and you ordered it."
- Fluffy Cloud Heaven: A frequent subject. One notable subversion shows some angels (basically guys in cheap costumes with cardboard wings and wire halos) standing around in a small grubby room labeled "Heaven", with one of them commenting "I expected the place to be a lot more classy!"
- Freudian Couch: This is a particular favorite with him. A typical example has the psychiatrist saying to the guy on the couch "..How long have you been aware of this imagined 'plot to get you'? ...while crooking his finger at two black-cloaked assassins creeping in through the office door.
- Ghost Story: "Campfire Story" centers around one that may or may not be Rewriting Reality.
- Hanging Judge: One cartoon features a judge explaining to a very nervous defendant that the skull-and-crossbones lined up the national and state flags in the courtroom is his personal flag.
- "Have a Nice Day" Smile: He hated them, feeling they represent phony or enforced good cheer. He went so far as to do a cartoon with a Hitler Expy whose symbol is the smiley face rather than the swastika.
- Humanoid Abomination: One notable cartoon has a flasher exposing his tentacled, multi-eyed, multi-mouthed torso to a terrified woman. Wilson himself noted that this fellow is an open homage to the H. P. Lovecraft's character Wilbur Whateley in "The Dunwich Horror".
- Is Nothing Sacred?: There's a cartoon in which ornately robed monks are praying to an ornate but quite empty pedestal. A passerby utters the phrase in question.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Gahan himself, but he also did a cartoon of a man painting a picture of horrific nightmare beings, cheerfully telling an anxious onlooker "I paint what I see!" - and this was the title of one of his cartoon collection books.
- Rewriting Reality: Many of his short stories use this as a plot point.
- Santa Claus: A popular subject, usually messed with in some hilarious way (being a werewolf, being an child-harvesting alien). Word of God is that a favorite cartoon was one where a chimney sweep tells a lady "Well, we found what's been clogging your chimney since last December" as they stand over a skeletal body in a Santa Claus outfit...