The MAD Monkey Staff

March 20th, 2008 | Posted in General

This last issue of MAD was a unique one. It’s an “All Monkey Issue”, filled from front to back with gags about monkeys and apes. They even did a parody of the TV show “Monk” with Mort Drucker drawing a monkey instead of the lead character. Tony Shalhoub must have been disappointed (although the monkey looked a little like him more than occasionally)!

My job for the issue was a really different as well. I was called on to draw the staff of MAD as monkeys… or apes as the case may be. I was told not to worry that much about the likenesses of the actual people but to go more “ape” than human. I thought I could pull off both, but it was harder than I thought it would be.

First off, few apes or monkeys have anything resembling a human nose. The baboon/gibbon family have a snout of sorts, but most simians have just nostrils and no connecting cartilage to their brow. The inability to draw nose bridges and noses made likenesses a lot tougher. Also, most monkeys and apes have no hair between their lip and nostrils… no mustaches. Half the guys at MAD have mustaches and beards! All that aside, I started off by trying to pair a MAD staffer with a monkey or ape that they had some at least vague visual connection with.

Charlie has a gorilla brow…

Some were easier than others….

I defaulted to “chimp” for anyone I couldn’t get a more unique looking simian for. After much hair pulling and gnashing of teeth, I did my intital rough for the job:

Click for a closer look…

That went over fairly well with the staff. I went on to the final:

Click for a closer look…

Here are close ups of the two pictured above:



Obviously I had to take some liberties and often shoehorn human features into the monkey or ape face. I also mixed some aspects of different species and sometimes just made it up entirely. In some cases that took away from the simian aspects and made them look too human, but mostly they balanced out fairly well. An interesting exercise in problem solving.


  1. sirdrawzalot23 says:

    Jeeze, you are good. I just got the issue today and I was amazed because I have seen the staff and you nailed them. When I saw it I went and tried to draw someone in monkey form… eeehh but it just looked like sasquatch, oh well, at least I can always get joy from looking at your monkey-people! Nice work.

  2. pmcmicheal says:

    TOM, I gain more respect for you with each new drawing I see! Merging caricatures into Ape figures is absolutely AMAZING…..TALENT,TALENT, TALENT!!!!! These sorts of abilities can NOT be taught…you have to be born with it!
    I love the details, Statue of Liberty( plant of the apes), Banana (apple) computer, Poop on the dart board, Ape pin-up, So many things to see…..All the stuff I loved about Mad magazine when I was a Lad…I would stare at them for hours .

  3. cedricstudio says:

    Wow, I never would have thought about those difficulties until you explained them. I saw this issue in the bookstore and thought you did a terrific job.

  4. Philbert says:

    Wow! Talent indeed. Once again, amazing and wonderful work. Love the “chicken fat.”

  5. DShultz says:

    Excellent job… funny, funny stuff.

  6. SteveH says:

    Holy Ape Batman….. this is TOO funny! Wonderful work as always Tom! “You see it’s true..ohh ohh… I wanna be like you ..ohh ohh….walk like you, talk like you…….” Apologies to Jungle Book!

  7. AlexOwla says:

    Well, now you’re just a genius.


Sketch o’the Week- Julie Newmar! #batman #batman66 #catwoman #julienewmar

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: