“Research” 1


Sunday, November 15, 2009

George Wunder

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.

Mike Kelley

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!

Barry Windsor-Smith

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7 Responses to ““Research” 1”
  1. Anonymous says:

    I notice your mention of the Syracuse University private collections.
    They have an archive of Mort Weisinger's personal papers which aren't online or on microfilm.
    It strikes me that much interesting information might be in those papers.
    Of particular interest to me would be
    any mentions of Jack Kirby's time at DC in the 40's and later 50's.
    It has been said that Weisinger had a dislike of Kirby, and yet shortly after Weisinger retired he paid a friendly social visit to the Kirby home in California. Pat Ford

  2. Ully says:

    Re: The Studio
    Im by no means an expert on The Studio but I am an occasional freelance writer who happens to love the work that was done there. Id be seriously into doing the research and putting together a piece if you can let me know when where how you want it. Contact me for nfo!

  3. looka says:

    So, Wunder and Marsh and all those cats …and all of those anecdotes thrown in… it was grand to look into your plans and the research you're doing.

    Also a Kirby show for Fumetto 2010 – thanks for that! I guess after four years of not going, I will have to do so next year.

  4. James says:

    I seem to recall that Frank Springer and perhaps also George Evans had ghost hands in Wunder's version of Terry. I believe they are both also now off-planet, though.

  5. Paul Chadwick says:

    I always loved Wunder's obsessively detailed backgrounds, and acid-trip Sunday page coloring. And the profligate wrinkles he never tired of lovingly rendering all over leather jackets.

    Here's a lead. Wunder spent his last days living in New Milford, Connecticut. When I lived in the area in the eighties, my mechanic said he had worked on Wunder's car when he was alive.

    I know that Carl Gafford, longtime fan/colorist/comics person lived in New Milford in the seventies. Maybe he knew Wunder?

    And yes, George Evans did a great deal of ghosting on Wunder's Terry in the later years.

  6. Matt Tauber says:

    It's great to see someone talking about George Wunder, who historically is treated as a Caniff footnote. He did the strip for 27 some years, but remains a mystery that deserves some digging. His color Sundays show up on eBay every now and then.

  7. Randy Reynaldo says:

    Though I discovered Caniff's "Terry and the Pirates" at a young age in the '70s thru books on the history of comics, it was Wunder's "Terry" that was running in the NY Daily News when I grew up. Would love to see some kind of biography of him–you're right, he's a cypher to the industry!

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