Sunday Mailbag

May 20th, 2012 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: Do you normally ask permission from the people you know (friends, officemates, relatives) before you draw/caricature them? Were there such a case when they didn’t take it so well, or found it offensive?

A: Have I ever offended anyone? Sure, and that’s funny considering my style of caricature is not very derogatory or offensive. When doing live caricature you occasionally get people who don’t like the results. Sometimes it’s because the drawing is legitimately “off” (you can’t win them all), but often it’s their problem. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson from “A Few Good Men”…some people just can’t handle the truth. So far no one has gone so far as to take a swing at me . . . having 19 inch biceps is a nice deterrent for that kind of reaction. 😀

When drawing people I know for other reasons (I mean other than selling the image to the subject like a live caricature), I never ask permission first…especially when I sneak someone I know into MAD. Mostly I want to surprise them, but I also want to see if they are paying attention. Usually they are not, and someone else has to point it out to them. 🙁

Here are some examples of some people I know who I have snuck into MAD over the years (this is by no means a complete list):

From 2003’s “Trashing Places” in MAD #435, my neighbors Kim and Craig Gerkin . . .

… and more neighbors Julie and Don McNeil

From 2004’s “Suggestions for Improving American Idol” in MAD #440, good friends Barbie and (fellow caricaturist) Keelan Parham . . .

From 2004’s “The O.D.” in MAD #442, Luke and Joe McGarry…musicians, artists and sons of cartoonist and former NCS president Steve McGarry

From 2004’s “Van Helstink” in MAD #446, caricaturist Paul Gaunt

From 2004’s “Spider-Sham Too” in MAD #446, Caricaturist and artist agent Tad Barney

From 2005’s “Tedium” in MAD #454, Caricaturist Dan Minamide

From 2005’s “Dump my Ride” in MAD #456, caricaturist/illustrator/animator Joe Bluhm

From 2005’s “Extreme Once Over- Home Repetition”, caricaturist and artist agent Mike Hasson

From 2006’s “Everybody Berates Chris” in MAD #463, caricaturist Elgin Bolling and another of my neighbors, Allen Glenn

From 2006’s “Yell’s Kitchen” in MAD #470, “Pearls Before Swine” cartoonist Stephan Pastis

From 2008’s “The Dork Knight” in MAD #495, Brother-in-law Joe Voss

From 2010’s “Glee-tarded”, daughter Gabrielle and son Tom . . .

. . . and daughter Victoria and her boyfriend Pat Ross

From 2010’s “Harry Plodder and It’s Dreadful What Follows, Part 1” in MAD #507, The Lovely Anna! She actually requested to be drawn into this one, and as this character: Mathilda Hopkirk.

From 2012’s “Parks and Regurgitation” in MAD #511,¬¨‚Ć sister-in-law Theresa Voss . . .

. . . and brother-in-law Chris Voss

From 2012’s “The Hunger Pains” in MAD #515, “The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee” cartoonist John Hambrock

There are many other examples. I have drawn my kids into a couple of other jobs. I’ve drawn my dog into several pieces… he never really complains although he thinks I draw him too fat. Lot’s of friends and artists I know have ended up in MAD. Some cameos have gone completely unnoticed. Others have netted me some very fun phone calls and emails. So far no death threats, although Pastis didn’t talk to me for almost a year after that drawing.

Thanks to Martin Latupan for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. jailerjoe says:

    That’s better than being “circled” by Madden! You’ve got my permission to plug me into any scene as needed. FUN post, Tom!

  2. Tad Barney says:

    What, no link to my website under that drawing of me? Geesh…

  3. As they say, Thaddeus old boy, Tom NAILED you!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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