MAD might not have anywhere near the circulation it did in it’s heyday (what magazine does these days??) but there is still a special place in some people’s hearts for MAD that gets them very enthusiastic about getting made fun of in it’s pages. Michael J. Fox was once quoted as saying he knew he’d “made it” as an actor when he was drawn by Mort Drucker in MAD. Usually the MAD movie and TV parodies I’m lucky enough to illustrate see print and nothing more comes of it, but every once and awhile one of the people connected with a show that gets lampooned gets very excited about it. Personally I’d be upset if I was an actor and finally was in a show or movie big enough to get the MAD treatment, and then open the issue looking for my Mort Drucker caricature only to find I was drawn by some schmuck named Tom Richmond, but nonetheless just being in MAD is cool to some people and I occasionally get contacted through MAD about buying the original artwork.
It’s hard to figure out what to charge for originals, so I just start at a base page rate and go from there. I’ve only had a few people refuse the price I ask, which I have been told is way too low, but some celebrities expect you to just fawn all over them and offer it for nothing just because they are famous. MAD artist Ray Alma told me a story once about how Gene Simmons contacted him concerning his original art for the movie parody of “Detroit Rock City”. Apparently he was expecting Ray to just give it to him for free, and refused to pay even the reasonable price Ray asked for. His loss.
Maybe I’m not willing to give away my originals just because the someone asking is famous, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the talents of some of the creators and actors in the parodies, or the shows and movies they are in. Some shows or movies I do the art for I never really get into, have no further interest in or plain old can’t stand. However some I really end up liking, and continue to watch after the job is over. In the case of “Lost”, I got addicted and never miss an episode! When I get contacted by someone associated with a show/film I like, I try and negotiate a little extra something in the form of a signed print. MAD is nice enough to print out an oversized proof of a splash page for me if I ask for it for just such a purpose. I offer the pages for a little less than usual and ask for some of the actors and creators of the show to sign the print. Sometimes those interested just want the art and won’t sign anything, but sometimes they are really enthusiastic about it and are more than willing to get some signatures on the print for me. There is an area just outside my studio where I have framed some of these prints, which I call the “Wall of Shame”. Each one has a little story, and I’ll shamelessly show off one of them here on the blog occasionally and tell about how I got it. The first one is one of the best… The Sopranos!
Back in issue #422 (2002) I did a two pager called “A MAD Peek Behind the Scenes on the Set of the Sopranos“. This was the first “Behind the Scenes of…” feature I did, and have since done several. They consist of a big single scene, usually from above looking down, full of caricatures of the actors from the show, and sometimes the writers, directors and other creators. This one obviously was of the Sopranos, a show I had been a fan of since I did a parody of it for Cracked. I had a lot of fun doing the art and caricaturing all the actors, a total of 21 including creator David Chase. A few months after the issue came out, I was contacted by one of the producers of the show, Terry Winter, about getting the original and some prints for the cast. I really wanted to get a few signatures of any of the cast members on a print for myself, but unfortunately by the time the prints were done the show’s season had wrapped and it would be 18 months before they got back to filming. I thought that was the end of it, but Terry told me to send him the print anyway and he’d see what he could do.
18 months later, I got an e-mail from Terry saying he was sending out the print. A few days later I got the package from him, containing this:
Signed by no less than 10 cast members including James Gandlofini, Steve Van Zandt, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese, Tony Sirico, Lorraine Bracco, Aido Tuturro, Steven Schirripa and David Chase. He also sent me a copy of the magazine he had signed at a different time which included signatures by Drea De Matteo. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Edie Falco and others. I wasted no time in framing this print and putting it on the Wall of Shame. Terry really went out of his way to do this for me, especially after a year and a half had gone by. This signature and the added “comment” is my favorite part of the whole thing (sorry for the off-focus):
I though that was appropriate coming from “Tony Soprano” himself! I’ll post some of my other treasures in the future.
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