Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird

Steven-Charles Jaffe’s documentary “Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird” lifts the veil on the 83-year-old cartoonist for The New Yorker and Playboy magazines, known for his lovingly rendered monsters and child’s-eye view of the world.

Jaffe illustrates Wilson’s freeform conversational strands with a treasure trove of his cartoons dating back to his National Lampoon days, many of which produce big laughs. But the doc is marked by unusually poor (not much above home video) film quality and nonexistent transitions between subjects. Your money would be better spent on a book of Wilson’s material. The most illuminating sequence in “Born Dead, Still Weird” is the inside look at The New Yorker’s every-Tuesday open call for cartoonists, at which Wilson, Roz Chast and the others wait hopefully alongside unpublished hopefuls for an audience with the discerning, play-no-favorites cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff. Suffice to say, Mankoff makes Stanford look easy to get into by comparison.

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