I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here is another piece hanging on my Wall of Shame.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, I have an area outside my studio where I hang framed prints of some of my MAD splash pages that have been signed by some of the subjects depicted in them. They all have a story. I previously recounted the stories of how I got the ones of the Sopranos, Two and a Half Men and of Lost. The piece for today’s Wall of Shame was for the parody of the TV show The O.C..
Unlike the previous stories, this one did not involve getting called for the original art from the producer or studio of the show itself, but rather directly from one of the actors. Well, actually from her dad. I received an e-mail from a gentleman named Danny Bilson. Danny is a well known writer/director/executive producer who created the 90’s TV series The Sentinel, and has numerous other credits including the TV series Viper (creator), writer for the TV series The Flash and the screenplay for The Rocketeer. Lately he’s been writing for video games, especially for the James Bond series. With all the comic book related endeavors, it was not surprising to hear from him that he is a big fan of MAD Magazine. Danny also happens to be the father of actress Rachel Bilson, who is of course one of the stars of The O.C. When he saw the parody in MAD he googled me and inquired about the original art for the splash. He related the Michael J. Fox quote about how he “knew he’d made it when he was drawn by Mort Drucker in MAD”, and he felt the same about Rachel being in the magazine. Of course I quickly pointed out that being drawn by me rather than Mort in MAD was more like a baseball player getting to play catch with Bob Uecker instead of Babe Ruth, but he was not deterred.
Unfortunately I did not have that art anymore. I like to occasionally put people I know into the art as background characters, and in this particular case I did that in the splash. Because it was The O.C., a show about teenagers in California’s Orange County, I included the teenage sons of then National Cartoonist Society President, Ornage County resident and terrific cartoonist Steve McGarry on the beach lusting after Mischa Barton. Steve had been a great friend and a big fan of my work, and had really made Anna and I become known and feel welcome in the NCS… not an easy thing in such a big organization where most members are old friends and newcomers sometimes feel like wallflowers. Anyway I gave Steve that original in gratitude for all he’s done for me. I don’t regret that at all, but I did feel bad that I did not have it for Danny.
Instead, I tapped MAD to send me two over sized prints of the splash. I mailed both to Danny plus the only other page in the parody that featured Rachel’s caricature. I just gave him the page… ordinarily I’d sell it but again I felt bad and single pages of a parody aren’t really very sellable anyway. I asked that he give one of the prints to Rachel to get some signatures in ‘payment’ for the page.
A few weeks later I got it back, with signatures from Rachel and Adam Brody, her love interest on the show and in real life. Apparently it was during a taping break from the show, so no other cast signatures. Then again maybe the other stars of the show were just pissed off at their caricatures… although I am pretty tame compared to many caricaturists. Either way I ended up with this piece that hangs proudly on the Wall of Shame:
Interestingly enough this remains the only piece I’ve ever done in MAD that I received hate mail from. It seems a few people were a little upset about my depiction of Mischa Barton. One told me I’d made her look like a “holocaust victim”, and in general most of the e-mails were angry that I made the girl who’s poster resided on the ceiling above their beds look anything less than hot. Sorry, but the skin and bones body I gave her was an example of ‘selling the gag’… her word balloon referred to her being “skinny enough to make Paris Hilton want to join Weight Watchers”. That required a visual:
A bony Barton being oogled by Joe and Luke McGarry
Whatever. If anything my caricatures are probably too tame, so if I got a little more of this kind of reaction it might not be a bad thing!
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