Dinner with “The Usual Suspects” in NC

November 17th, 2008 | Posted in General


Front right going counter clockwise: Jan Powell, Jack Pittman, Joe, Su, Linda Maloof,
Robin (peeking out), me, Nick Meglin, Jay Pittman, Grey Blackwell, Dwayne Powell.
Pictures courtesy Jack Pittman.

While I was in Raleigh earlier this month for the NCN convention, I got a chance to sneak away one evening and have dinner with long time MAD editor Nick Meglin, his lovely lady Linda Maloof and a bunch of local cartoonists/artists that get together often and go by the name “The Usual Suspects”. The group included cartoonist and illustrator Jack Pittman, his son, illustrator Jay Pittman, occasional MAD contributor and editorial cartoonist/animator/illustrator Grey Blackwell, Raleigh News/Observer editorial cartoonist Dwane Powell and his wife Jan, musician Joe and wife Su and Linda’s friend Robin who is also an artist. Dinner was great a small italian place called “Vic’s”… dynamite Eggplant Parmigana.


Nick explains how MAD’s lowering standards are to blame
for hacks like me working for the magazine.

Nick is one of the people responsible (or to blame, depending on your perspective) for my getting into MAD Magazine. It was he and Sam Viviano that really encouraged me to keep working at my art and developing my own voice, which eventually led to my first assignment for MAD.

Nick is a funny guy, as you might expect. He’s also a master at insults… sort of like Don Rickles only smarter. The thing with Nick is, the more he likes you the more he insults you. If he’s polite and nice to you, it’s because he either doesn’t know you or he doesn’t like you. Therefore being friends with him is an exercise in trading zingers. I was not aware of this fact nor quite prepared for my first real encounter with Nick as a working artist for MAD.

It happened when I visited New York City shortly after first starting work for MAD. I had done four or so pieces for the magazine by then, and stopped into the offices to get my first tour as one of the “Usual Gang of Idiots”. I was in the art production room at the end of the long hallway that spanned the old 5th floor offices. On the other end of that hallway was Nick and John Ficarra‘s offices. I was looking at some original artwork in the MAD flat files when I heard a voice roar at the other end of the hall…

“RICHMOND’S HERE??!? WHERE IS THAT BUM?”

Nick Meglin was stomping down the hall right at me. He looked furious. “I CAN’T BELIEVE THE NERVE OF THAT GUY SHOWING UP HERE!”

Nick stormed right up to me and stuck his finger in my face.

“RICHMOND! Let’s get something straight! I don’t like you! I don’t like your WORK! I don’t LIKE YOUR ATTITUDE!” He then pointed at my feet and yelled, “I DON’T LIKE YOUR SHOES! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?!?”

Everybody was quiet for a second, and then I said, “What’s wrong with my shoes?”

At that Nick burst into a wide grin, grabbed both my cheeks and shook my head welcoming me to MAD. I bought a new pair of shoes later that day just in case.

Nick is one of the people who really shaped MAD into.. well… MAD. It would never have become the influential, ground breaking publication it did without him.

I had a good time having dinner with him and the NC gang. Great folks. My shoes went unnoticed but Nick still insulted my work.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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