Q: When did you start drawing for MAD, and what was your first article?
A: That’s somewhat of a complicated question because the first thing I ever drew for MAD was actually the sixth piece I had printed, my first ‘published’ job was not for the magazine but for their website, and the first actual assignment I got printed was given to me three months after that first piece was done.
Unofficially my first assignment was a job called “MAD’s Cable TV Viewing Odds” in June of 2000. I say “unofficially” because it was more of a tryout than a real job. I believe they intended to print it eventually, but I think it was the type of article that was considered both one that could be ditched if it didn’t turn out, and one that could sit in the “evergreen” drawer if it did. The “evergreen” drawer is a place where minor articles can sit and get pulled out in an emergency to fill pages in the event a deadline is blown or an article is abondoned or pushed back at the last minute for some reason. The subjects of such articles are not of a timely nature, hence they are “evergreen” and can be printed almost anytime.
I did that job and turned it in, but was told a few days later it was not scheduled for print anytime soon. I did not hear from MAD for two months after that. Looking over the job, I realized I did exactly what they didn’t want me to do… I aped Mort Drucker‘s style too much on the piece. Call it beginner’s panic or nervousness, but the principal concern MAD had about my work was it had too much of a Drucker influence, which they wanted me to move away from. They refuse to use copycat artists in MAD. They did not consider me a copycat, or they would never have even entertained the idea of me doing work for them, but they did make it clear they expected me to continue to move farther and farther from my Mort influences. I figured I’d blown my chance by channeling too much Mort.
Fortunately at the time MAD was trying to establish some website only content. This meant some additional, non-print work opportunities, especially for artists who worked fast and all digital. In August of 2000 I got a call and ended up doing a very quick job for their website of the four 2000 presidential candidates as contestants in Survivor called “Presidential Survivor“. I still have the art for that one on disk:
I did another for them of Al Gore crying over something or another, and some football related art for the site as well the next few weeks. Maybe it was the fact that I’d figured I had already blown it, or maybe I just didn’t have the time to sweat over these like I did the “Cable TV” job, but I must have relaxed enough to let my own drawing style come thorough and less of the Mort influence show because I got comments to that effect from MAD.
In September of 2000 I got my first “Official” MAD assignment, “Gadgets to Really Make Home Theater like Going to the Movies“, which was printed in MAD #399 (Nov 2000) on the stands in October of that year.
After that I got a few little jobs for print until I was assigned my first parody, Malcolm in the Middle. The Cable TV job, which was actually my first, was printed in MAD #406, almost a year after I’d drawn it.
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