Gahan Wilson has been making disturbing and hysterical cartoons for over 50 years. His work has graced the pages of The New Yorker, Playboy, National Lampoon, comic books and science fiction magazines. It's hard to do justice to such a body of work in under 150 pages, but that's the goal of The Best of Gahan Wilson, a modest collection of a tremendous cartoonist.

The Best of Gahan Wilson showcases Wilson's humor with many of his favorite topics. There are supernatural monsters a-plenty, but there are also the everyday horrors: the pharmacist who accidentally turned a patient to a puddle of goo, the little kid who sends his just-built toy robot to kill his parents, the creepy neighbor you wouldn't want inviting you to a barbecue, and so on. These one-panel cartoons, in color and black & white, are quite twisted, dark -- and damn funny too.

The Best of Gahan Wilson also has some longer features of Wilson's. There are some serial pieces he did for National Lampoon -- including "Nuts," which Wilson describes as "my cranky reaction against the archetypal, totally unchildlike beings in Peanuts" -- and his illustration of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Conquerer Worm." Wilson also comments on some trends here and there, including some of his favorite subjects (H.P. Lovecraft, Dick Tracy, Sherlock Holmes) and how he shifted from mythical horror to social and political commentary in his humor.

The Best of Gahan Wilson is an excellent introduction to Wilson's work. There are collections of his work that have bigger pages and more cartoons (and a much bigger price tag), but this is a very good sampling of his art, his sense of humor, and his subjects. And if this makes you want to seek out those other collections, so much the better!

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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