Wunders never cease
Monday Cartoon Day.
Every once in a while I do a post that starts out as just another batch of scans, but ends up being something I am quite proud of. Even though the artist mentioned in this post is not one of the acknowledged greats, the illustrations I have found today will hopefully shed some new light on him.
Yesterday, I recieved a mail from George Hagenauer, answering a question I put to Alan Holtz on his Strippers Guide blog about comic book and comic strip artists illustrating newspaper serials. In the past I have shown here some work in this area by Joe Simon as well as the Associated Press regulars of the thirties, Noel Sickles, Milton Caniff, Mel Graff and John Barrow. George sent me a link to his comic art galery, where he has several illustrations by George Wunder, who took over Terry and the Pirtaes from Milt Caniff in the last days of 1946. It turns out he too was an AP artist instead of the complete unknown I had always assumed he was. So I went back to look for work he did for AP and although most of it was never signed, I did come up with some interesting signed pieces. First of all, he did a Chistmas story in 20/24 tiers called Tommy Caroll in 1937. I will show all of those next Christmas. Then there were the 'drawn reports' Sickles, Barrow and Graff did as well. And finally, just going through one of the papers that had an AP account, I came across a one-off four panel strip from 1946 that is unsigned, but looks like it could be Wunder's work as well. All of these seem to have gone unnoted for all these years. Wunder never got a lot of attention, because obviously he was not as good an artist or storyteller as Caniff. But then, who is? And he did manage to keep Terry and te Pirates running with a healthy client list for at least 15 years (although it did drop off a bit after that). But appreciation for his work is so low, that he doesn't even have an entrance in Jerry Bails' WHo's Who. The listing for Terry ad the Pirates names four or five people working on Terry in 1961, but no George Wunder!
The picture pages, by the way, are very similar to the type of humor Harvey Kurtzman perfected for the magazine version of Mad and his later magazine Trump. Or maybe that's just me seeing connections wehere there aren't any.
Surprise, surprise! I went back the the paper showing that last panel and not only did I find an early one at the beginning of that month, it also seems it is part of a series called See For Yourself and as I suspected it is signed Wunder! I will keep looking and will add more as I find them. And now that I know where to look, I see the first one is signed as well in the third panel. Who spotted that?
So I went back again and tried to get as complete a run as I could. `Difficult, because the different episodes are not numbered, not dated. Different papers used them at different times. Most episodes I could find appeared between June and September of 1946, with the ealriest ones appearing in May and repeats of others as late as December. Anyway, these strips are not only graphicly and historicle interesting, they also show the rapid growth of Wunder as an artist. In the late thirties his style has the fay look of Caniff and Nickles. In the wash illustrations I showed here, he developed a style of his own, more satirical, reminding me of the German artist Grosz. For this series, he starts out more as an illustrator, but towards the end he has found a very personal style that approaches the solidness of Caniff's work at that time. He toned down the individual traits when he took over Terry, although some of them would later reappear. What surprises me most, is the fact that his style here is so satirical and sometimes even funny. These are traits I never saw in Wunder and it makes me wonder what I may have wissed in his Terry stories, none of which I have ever managed to read to the end.
I hope someone more into George Wunder can provide me with some more information.
And I leave you with this: