by Dan Nadel
Sunday, November 15, 2009
In a vague attempt to try to write about comics more frequently, I’m going to start a series of posts wherein I detail my daily trips through the library, the storage bin, other people’s libraries, and, of course, the internet.
I spent a good chunk of yesterday messing around with George Wunder. First I read his obituary and then I read his wife’s. Then I read his sister’s. And man, it was like watching the whole family escape me one by one! Down they went, click by click. I took some notes and thought about contacting his nephews or grandnephews. I ought to. Then I discovered a cache of original art at Syracuse, but apparently no papers. I can’t find an interview with him (though my index to Cartoonist Profiles is in storage — there’s probably something in there) and am intrigued by the dearth of info. He had no children. Where are all the letters and such? Where are the diary entries that explain his inky grotesques? He had a way of depicting giant craniums that verges on abstraction. Wonderful, odd stuff. But who was he? Caniff we know, right down to his shoes. But Wunder? I dunno. Wood assisted him at one point, I know that. And he apparently was in the military sometime. But what else? Ah well.
Then I got distracted and went down a rabbit hole looking for more on Jesse Marsh. Ordered a copy of a fanzine with a supposedly long Russ Manning article about him. Marsh died unmarried, but he did have siblings — seven according to some reports. In all my research for Art in Time, I wasn’t able to turn up anyone still living who knew him first hand, though I imagine someone from Western must still be around, and the thought tweaks me a couple times a week. Marsh remains a mystery to me. There might be some info in the hands of E.R. Burroughs collectors, which is the rabbit hole I dove down yesterday, mired in ERB fan sites trying to find some new little morsel that might have recently appeared. Has someone from his family contacted Dark Horse, I wonder? What became of his paintings? Of his legendary reference library? Some of these West Coast guys passed before fandom really kicked in (though according to Alex Toth, Marsh most likely would’ve rebuffed any queries anyway) and so we’re left with lots of questions. Manning seemed to have known him well, but he’s not talking either.
My last stop of the day was a lengthy digression into my favorite comics web site, Comic Art Fans, on which I combed through the Jack Kirby holdings hoping to find material for the 1940s and 50s Kirby exhibition I’m curating for the 2010 Fumetto Festival. For sheer volume of incredible visuals, it’s the best site going.
On the not-comics-but-related front, went to see a buncha exhibitions yesterday, including the Mike Kelley show at Gagosian and the Robert Williams show at Tony Shafrazi. Best of all were the Hockney show at Pace and the Sister Corrita show at Zach Feuer, but man, seeing the Williams and Kelley shows in the space of a few hours was awfully fun. Couldn’t be more different artists, but both are insightful painters of male angst/worry/paranoia/obsession. Check ’em out.
And that, dear friends, was my “research” for the weekend.
p.s.: Our offer still stands: Comics Comics wants a good, serious article about The Studio, 30 years on. We want to know about shag carpeting and questionable wall hangings? We want to know where the work came from and where it went. We want to know the economics of it, and the relationship between it, comics, fantasy, and illustration. Contact us!