Saturday, April 20, 2013

George Wunder Originals, 1947

Original George
Since I seem to be on a George Wunder kick, I dug out my two and only Terry originals by GW. Both date from 1947. I bought them through an ad in the Menomonee Falls Gazette. They've suffered over the last forty years, having barely escaped a major ceiling-leak that destroyed much of my collection in the mid-1980s. Water chewed the bottom of the first panel of the earlier daily and both took on those brown dots which I believe are called "foxing." They're gems none the less.

Here is the daily for 14 July 1947. It comes near the end of the Theodore Bor continuity from which I've been posting Sunday pages. I've said before that I feel Wunder wasn't a great dialogue writer. In support of this view I offer the amazingly convoluted sentence in panel two.
The other original is the daily for 27 October. This is the beginning of the storyline which introduced Spray O'Hara. Spray chummed around with the boys for some time, then married Hotshot Charlie. Before long both were out of the strip. I remember reading somewhere that Wunder felt the marriage was a mistake because it severely limited Hotshot's usefulness as a sidekick. For several years afterward Wunder tried out replacements.

By examining the originals closely (they're huge--over 20 inches wide) I noted a couple of technical tidbits. I was interested to see that in many panels Wunder seems to have outlined everything first before applying shadow. For example in the second panel of 10/27 you can see Terry's eyes, nose and mouth were inked with a pen. These details were obscured by shadow. Other bits include buttons and folds on Pat's suit jacket and the steps and runner on the stairs in panel 3. This doesn't seem always to have been the case, though. I can't see signs of Chopstick Joe's hat line, ears, or collar under the shadow in panel one. Of course they might have been inked with a brush rather than a pen, in which case they wouldn't show.

The ink is remarkably black and dense. Few brush strokes are visible within the black areas. Either Wunder laid ink on really thick or the ink he used was much denser than modern inks. Maybe both. I also see that in the last panel an excess word ("to" at the end of the second line) was scratched off with a blade, yet the paper's surface is barely damaged. Sure can't do that with present-day Bristol board!


Diego Cordoba said...

I always thought Wunder inked mainly with a brush. I have never seen any pen marks on his art (and I have a few of his original Terry boards). His brush inking is so precise, that I wonder if he didn't ink over and over the same lines. And yes, his ink is really black. As anyone who has inked with a brush, it's easier to get the brush flowing on the paper by dipping the point in some water before inking. So, how Wunder got such dark blackness is a wonder in itself!

By the way, on another topic, have you ever heard of a dutch artist named Hans Kresse? He not only inked everything with a brush, he also did the lettering with one too.

Smurfswacker said...

I first encountered Hans Kresse in an old French fanzine. His work is really impressive. He's another important artist who's nearly unknown here in the States. I wish there were more large-size reproductions of his work on the Web.

Amazing that he also lettered his strips with a brush!

Back when I first started drawing comics, the old yellow-label Pelikan ink was exceptionally dense and black. It also caked up in the bottle and ruined brushes in a very short time. The modern version of this ink is nothing like the old's much thinner and even smells different. I wondered if maybe Wunder used some old-school ink that allowed him to lay down such beautiful blacks.