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Creator / Gahan Wilson

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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:

  • Alien Lunch
  • 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: "Mr. 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.
  • Black Comedy
  • Body Horror: Gahan loved drawing mutants, aliens, and monsters.
    • Humanoid Abomination: One notable cartoon has a flasher exposing his tentacled, multi-eyed, multi-mouthed torso to a terrified woman.
  • Dada Comics
  • 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."
  • "Far Side" Island
  • 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!"
  • Advertisement:
  • Freudian Couch: This is a particular favorite with him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Living Statue: "The Marble Boy"
  • 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.
  • Rage Against the Author: "The Power of The Mandarin"
  • 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...


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