Carving comics

Published On January 25, 2013 | By Joe Gordon | Comics

Now these are just astonishing pieces of very unusual comics and cartoon art – classic comics characters carved out into wood by an obscure genius. Mel Birnkrant has created an extensive website detailing the works and the history of them and the unusual man, Charles Ponstingl, who crafted the wooden comics creations, as well as how he first came to encounter them himself. all lovingly detailed in text with some splendidly shot photos of the sculptures at good sizes so you can take in the wonderful level of detailing.

(above: I couldn’t resist this sculpture of a classic cartoon character – one of my personal favourites of all time, not to mention one of mid 20th century Hollywood’s most charismatic film stars, Mr Bugs Bunny; below – an astonishing scene inspired by McCay’s Little Nemo . Characters are (c) their respective creators/studios, carvings by Charles Ponsting, images by and borrowed from Mel’s site)

To understand Charles’ interest in Comic Characters, one need only look back to his childhood.  All the Funny Folks, and the Great Artists who created them, speak to him of simpler times and better days, echoing an era when America was still fresh and brave.  They carry him back to his earliest days, a time when good and evil were still easily discernible, and almost everyone, as well as the Comic Characters that Charles met in the “Funny Papers”, were all on the same page.”

The gorgeously carved dioramas cover some classic animated and comics characters and scenes, from Disney (Charles started with Mickey in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mel tells us – see below) and Felix the Cat to Beetle Bailey, Sad Sack (who I still remember fondly from childhood – a friendly old newsagent had a stack of them imported and I worked my way through them), Popeye and the iconic and magical Little Nemo in Slumberland by that early giant of our beloved medium, Winsor McCay. Mel has thoughtfully arranged all of this into pages, where he talks of his first encounters with Charles’ work via a collectables dealer, slowly accumulating more works for his collection then finding out more about Charles before actually talking to him directly, and this puts so much welcome extra context to the images of the work.

It’s all quite, quite wonderful and left me smiling hugely – this is one of those rare pieces you come across online which delights both your adult head and that child’s heart that still beats within you somewhere if you’re lucky (some let it atrophy, I believe readers maintain it as books and comics stimulate our sense of wonder and we never lose it). Throughout the pages and the images Charles’ love for those mid 20th century cartoons and comics of his youth, and for Mel’s (justifiable) adoration for them are quite clear and the pleasure and passion they evoke is charming and lovely. My advice? Bookmark this then spend some time to yourself reading through each of the pages and admiring those wonderful images, indulge that inner child with the sheer delight on offer here (because delight is exactly what we are being served here), then share it with someone and make them smile too. Looking at this site I can’t help but quote from Calvin & Hobbes, because sometimes truly “there’s treasure everywhere.” (link via BoingBoing)

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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