According to this article on NorthJersey.com, a new documentary on the career of the late, great Will Elder screened at the 2010 Toronto Jewish Film Festival back in April to a “pleasantly surprising” turnout.
“The Mad Playboy of Art” takes a look inside the life and career of Will Elder, one of the principal founding artists for MAD Magazine and long time collaborator with Harvey Kurtzman. The film is being made by Elder’s son-in-law Gary VandenBergh.
From the article:
VandenBergh said that Elder was an artist who set the tone for the visual perspective role at Mad Magazine, a bi-monthly satirical magazine, which began as a comic book. The director said that Elder deserves credit for the magazine’s visual style.
Elder became one of the most influential artists at the magazine and spurred other irreverent magazines and humor featured on “Saturday Night Live,” National Lampoon and “The Onion.”
As huge a fan as I am of Will Elder, it’s a stretch to say Elder alone deserves credit for the magazine’s visual style. While his “chicken fat” technique is one that continues to this day to be a mainstay of MAD art (it’s something I always love to include in my work), I think the visual style of the magazine was as equally set by artists like Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, Don Martin and George Woodbridge as it was by Elder. Also, Elder was gone with Kurtzman by 1957 and appeared in only 44 total issues while the continued contributions of the previously names artists and many others over hundreds of more issues shaped the evolving MAD into the magazine that peaked in the 1970’s with over 2 million copies per issue sold.
That said, no doubt Elder’s sadly short run in MAD was very influential on the magazine’s future, and his continuing work like “Little Annie Fannie” in Playboy continued to delight and influence cartoonists and illustrators for 30 plus years. A documentary on his career will be at the top of my “must see” list.
VandenBergh says the film screened in Toronto was unfinished, and he needs funding to complete the documentary. Hopefully the exposure he got at the film festival will get him the money he needs to finish and distribute the film.
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