Monday, May 23, 2016

George Wildman R.I.P.


The passing of George Wildman is a profoundly sad day for all Charlton Comics fans. After the heyday of the "Action Heroes" and the departure of Dick Giordano and much of the talent which defined that era Charlton fell into some quiet years, producing comics but making little impact in the industry while focusing on licensed titles from King Features and Hanna-Barbera.


George Wildman became an assistant editor during this time and eventually became editor of the whole line. The transition is notable as the vintage "Big Red C" was replaced by what was dubbed "The Charlton Bullseye", which Wildman himself designed.


George Wildman was an accomplished and talented cartoonist with a distinctive and bold line, and plied his trade most notably on Popeye. His work on that title made me a Popeye fan, the zany pages contrasted dramatically with the rather droll comic strip which was being produced at the time. Popeye I knew from the old cartoons, but Wildman awakened my understanding of the Sailor Man as a lively and distinctive comic book character.


But it was Wildman's nurture and encouragement of new talent which really made Charlton a hub of interest in the 70's. He had as his assistant editor Nicola Cuti, a savvy writer and artist and between them they brought in such stellar talents as Joe Staton, John Byrne, Mike Zeck, Wayne Howard, Don Newton, Rich Larsen, and others to work with established talents such as Joe Gill, Steve Ditko and Pat Boyette. New titles which erupted under the Wildman regime were E-Man, Doomsday +1, Scary Tales, Yang, and many others, alongside licensed titles like Korg 70,000 B.C., Space:1999, and the Six-Million Dollar Man.

(George holding the painted wooden emblem he pitched to Charlton.)
Wildman had a long association with Popeye and went right on working in illustration and cartoons. He worked for many other publishers after leaving Charlton in the mid 80's, including Marvel, DC, Gold Key (Whitman), and others.


I love this cover for a charming issue of Mike Ambrose's Charlton Spotlight from several years ago. Wildman looks here as I always imagined he must, full of life and energy and eager to get drawing.

Rest in peace Mr. Wildman, from a life-long fan who truly and sincerely appreciates what you gave to me. I will never forget it.

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4 comments:

  1. Great tribute. I used to be famous amongst my peers for drawing Popeye when I was in secondary school, but the Popeye I was familiar with was drawn by either Neville Main or Bill Mevin in the pages of TV Comic. However, I'd now like to add some Charlton Popeye comics to my collection.

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    1. They are worthy additions. There's a zaniness to Wildman's art that makes the oddball world of the Thimble Theater folks really come alive.

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  2. One of the unsung greats. He re-invigorated some of the Charlton line at a time it was needed.

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    1. He represented the best of what Charlton could be when it got it right.

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