William Wray (artist)

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For the musician, see Bill Wray
William Wray's painting Parking Garage (16"x20") is part of his Urban Landscape series.

William York Wray (b. March 24, 1956, Fort Meade, Maryland) is an American cartoonist and landscape painter, notable for his Urban Landscape series of paintings, his many pages for Mad and his contributions to The Ren & Stimpy Show.[1] He has used the name Bill Wray for his cartoon creations and William Wray for his work as a fine artist.

Wray spent much of his childhood traveling about as an Army brat, reading comic books and watching animated cartoons. At the age of 15, he received training in Newport Beach, California, from a retired Disney animator.[1] He then entered the animation industry, working for a variety of studios, including Disney, Hanna-Barbera and Filmation.[2]

In 1985, he moved to New York, doing comic book work for Marvel and DC Comics, while studying at New York's Art Students League.[1] A phone call from John Kricfalusi sent him back West in the early 1990s to work on The Ren & Stimpy Show,[3][4][5] Samurai Jack, The Mighty B! and other shows.[6][7] His long-run Monroe series appeared in more than 100 issues of Mad,[3] and he has also co-created Dark Horse Comics Hellboy Junior with Mike Mignola based on the Hellboy character.[4] His cartoon influences include Hank Ketcham, Harvey Kurtzman, Erich Sokol and Wally Wood.[1]

California regionalist paintings[edit]

A resident of Sierra Madre, California, Wray is currently concentrating on fine art, doing oil paintings of landscapes, figures and urban settings. A statement by Wray indicates his attitude and approach to his paintings, an attempt to document aspects of urban California that continue to vanish:[8]

The highest compliment I ever received was when a great painter told me my paintings look old. I love the early 20th Century's art and architecture and work hard to invoke comparisons to that period in my work. I love the idea of capturing what's left of a bygone era; recording it before it's gone, replaced by a new strip mall. I've spent my life studying the artists of that era, reaching for a level of skill and feeling that the modern art world has long dismissed as dull-witted craft. I hope my paintings of these old structures has become less an invocation of nostalgia than an important race to record what is fast disappearing. Every time you find an old factory, a rundown dock or an old shack, a developer is sure to be there trying to convince the city it's time to renovate. Good for the economy, they say, but bad for the painter looking for interesting subjects to paint. California's urban pockets of age are disappearing at a record pace, so I have to paint as fast as I can.[9]
William Wray's paintings are collected in his book Dirty Beauty (Brandstudio Press, 2007).[10]

His approach to painting was influenced by Edgar Alwin Payne, Emil Gruppe, J. C. Leyendecker and other artists.[11]

A member of Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, Oil Painters of America and the California Art Club, Wray has participated in workshops with Ray Roberts, Carolyn Anderson, Matt Smith, Eric Merrill, Frank Serrano and George Strickland, in addition to his long term study with Jove Wang.[12]


He is represented by several California galleries: Segil Fine Art (Monrovia), H. J. Higgins (Los Angeles), and Just Looking Gallery (San Luis Obispo).[12]


Wray's book, Dirty Beauty, a 48-page, full-color hardcover collection of his paintings was published September 17, 2007 by Brandstudio Press.[10][13]



External links[edit]