Charles Ponstingl: amazing wood-carver who recreated the comics


Zack sez, "Mel Birnkant, creator of the Outer Space Men and major Disney collector, has a section on his website paying tribute to his friend Charles Ponstingl, who did amazing, elaborate wood carvings based on classic comic strips. Check out these dioramas based on Winsor McCay's "Little Sammy Sneeze" and Little Nemo or these elaborate pieces recreating an old Disney picture book.


On the first day of the first Brimfield Flea Market of 1978, Ron told me he had something he thought I would like. And took me to his van to show me four shadow boxes with scenes carved out of wood. They were a little primitive, a little naive, but quite fabulous. Ron, as usual, was right; they were, indeed, something I would like. He explained that they were four of sixteen, the rest of which were various sizes, some smaller, some larger. He had put four in his van to show me and left the rest at home. If I was interested, he would deliver the other twelve to me.

It is amazing how even these, the first four carvings that Ron showed me displayed characteristics that proved to be prophetic; touches of unspoiled freshness that have never faded from Charles’ art, in the many years that followed. This first, in which the Little Bad Wolf is handing his dad a can of beans, while Papa studies a book of pork recipes, is typical of Charles' propensity to portray a scene that often seems elusively arbitrary; characters caught in mid-action, rather than posing for the camera in an iconic fashion. Then, he freezes the moment in wood for all Eternity.

And this is the story that Ron told me: An old time toy dealer, who I’ll call “Tom”, had acquired these carvings, of which there were twenty. It seemed that Tom was keeping four and sold the remaining sixteen. They were the work of a man who Tom’s son had met at work. This guy was described as a “crazy old coot”, a cantankerous old timer, who refused to take suggestions or requests, and just carved what he pleased. None of that mattered, anyway, as has he had stopped at twenty carvings, and was never going to carve again!

CARVING THE COMICS The Amazing Art of Charles Ponstingl (Thanks, Zack!)

Discuss

8 Responses to “Charles Ponstingl: amazing wood-carver who recreated the comics”

  1. misskansas says:

    This is fantastic stuff and I would love to read all about it but I just can’t read the white text on black for very long. 

  2. azaner says:

    Marvelous work.  Such care.

  3. dculberson says:

    Even more amazing than the art itself – which is quite amazing – is the obvious love and friendship that Mel has for Charles.  It was great to have a picture painted of what must be a strong friendship built over decades of respect.  What an enchanting read.

  4. sockdoll says:

    I’ve always loved comical 3D figures in advertising photos, and those old Japanese kids’ books where the illustrations are photos of doll/puppet figures posed in diorama-like scenes. This work imbues some of my favorite comics and cartoons with a third dimension. I absolutely LOVE these. I feel like this should have been MY life’s work. Thanks so much for posting these.

  5. freshyill says:

    These are great but I’m not seeing any links to the source material and it’s driving me nuts.

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