His magnum opus Lanark (1981) features a skin disease called ‘dragonhide’.
Adjectives applicable to this work are grotesque, fantastique and rabelaisian.
The book has a tendency to depress.
Update: The skin disease ‘dragonhide’ reminds me of Maldoror: “I am filthy. I am riddled with lice. Hogs, when they look at me, vomit. My skin is encrusted with the scabs and scales of leprosy, and covered with yellowish pus.”
Gahan Wilson was an American author, cartoonist and illustrator.
I was unacquainted with the work of Wilson. Dave Letterman introduced him in the 1980s as the “guru of gruesome, wizard of the weird and the Michelangelo of the macabre.”
Me being European, Wilson reminds me of Tomi Ungerer (1931- 2019) or Roland Topor (1938-1997) and perhaps more of Topor, since like Topor, Wilson was not political.
Wilson is regarded as the only heir of Charles Addams (1912-1988) and often mentioned in one breath with Edward Gorey (1925-2000) .
The epithet ‘sick humor‘ sometimes pops up, although I have to disagree on this one, as, as a European, I am used to Hara Kiri, most likely the epitome of 20th century sick humor.
Since I found out about his death, I watched the “The Waitress” episode of The Kid (2001) and Wilson’s appearance at David Letterman’s (March 30, 1982) when he published Is Nothing Sacred?. I also listened to a reading of the wonderful story “The Sea was Wet as Wet Could Be” (1967).
His cartoon “I am an insane eye doctor and I am going to kill you now…” is frequently cited as of his best work. In it, a non-suspecting man reading an optometrist’s ‘eye examination’ with the text cited is approached from behind by a knife wielding optometrist.
There are body horror elements in his work and the cartoon “Harry, I really think you ought to go to the doctor.”, in which Harry is a regular man with the head of a prawn, is positively Lovecraftian.
“Goodbye to lovely “pro-Women’s Liberationist” Paul Krassner, with all his astonished anger that women have lost their sense of humor”on this issue” and don’t laugh any more at little funnies that degrade and hurt them: farewell to the memory of his “Instant Pussy” aerosol-can poster, to his column for the woman-hating men’s magazine Cavalier, to his dream of a Rape-In against legislators’ wives, to his Scapegoats and Realist Nuns and cute anecdotes about the little daughter he sees as often as any properly divorced Scarsdale middle-aged father; goodbye forever to the notion that a man is my brother who, like Paul, buys a prostitute for the night as a birthday gift for a male friend, or who, like Paul, reels off the names in alphabetical order of people in the women’s movement he has fucked, reels off names in the best locker-room tradition—as proof that he’s no sexist oppressor.”– “Goodbye to All That” (1970) by Robin Morgan
The entire issue where he is depicted with a spray can of “instant pussy” referred to, can be read here.
German writer Edgar Hilsenrath is best-known for his novel The Nazi and the Barber (1971), the story of a German SSmass murderer, who after the war assumes a Jewish identity and escapes to Israel and becomes a zionist. The story is told from his perspective and describes the atrocities he committed.
It is supposedly both funny and gruesome, which earns it its label ‘grotesque’.
I discovered the work of American photographer William Mortensen in May 2005 via the photo Human Relations. It is the photo of the face of a man whose eyes are gouged out by the pointing fingers of one hand.
Yesterday, I watched Dogville (2003) on DVD with my daughter, who had to watch it for her final year in high school. Her assignment: searching for Brechtian alienation elements. That wasn’t hard: the whole film is an attack on the suspension of disbelief.
The film is an indictment of the hypocrisy of small town morality. Its most dislikable character is Tom Edison Jr., the wannabe writer, would be philosopher and cowardly lover who abuses Grace’s trust time after time.
Von Trier’s tale reminded me both of Thomas Hardy and the misery of Jude the Obscure and of the festering perversion in the small town of Samuel Fuller’s The Naked Kiss.