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!)