Sunday Mailbag

June 10th, 2012 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: Who were the artists who influenced your work when you were still an art student?

A: That is not a very easy question to answer for any artist because most “discover” and are influenced by many different artists at different stages of their lives and careers. Since you specify my time as an “art student”, which I take to mean when I was studying art in college (1985-89), here is a short list of artists whose work I was introduced to and who became influences on me during those years:

Norman Rockwell– He is so commonly cited as an influence for any humorous illustrator that it’s almost silly to bring him up. However, I really hadn’t studied his work before I started taking illustration courses in college, so he was a big source of inspiration for me then.

Andrew Loomis– I had never heard of Loomis before, or seen any of his books. One of my illustration instructors brought him up during a lesson and I looked him up in the local library (this was before Google, kiddies). I am still blown away by his talents and have copies of all his original books (including the hard to find Fun with a Pencil).

Gary Fasen– Unless you are part of the world of live theme park caricature chances are you have never heard of Gary. He was half of Fasen Arts (along with his brother Steve), the theme park art concession company I worked for as a 19 year old kid. Gary was the principal guy who taught me to do live caricatures. He was also an accomplish illustrator and a fantastic airbrush artist. Gary tragically died, far too young, in 2005 from complications from diabetes.

Frank Miller– I know, there are no Frank Miller influences apparent in my work. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have an impact on me as an artist, though. The Dark Knight Returns is what brought me back into comics after I had mostly given them up, disillusioned with the garbage that was being produced in the early 80’s.

Wally Wood– Most people automatically assume Mort Drucker, Jack Davis and maybe Will Elder would be my main influences from the pages of MAD, but actually Wood’s work from the comic book MAD days is my favorite work ever from MAD. It was magic. Comedic genius. Clearly he was a guy who really had fun when he was allowed to cut loose and just “be funny”.

Those are the principal ones that come to mind. I appreciated many other artists during that time but these were ones that either really resonated with me, or that had a direct and profound influence on my artwork and how I did or approached it during my college years.

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. Rich Conley says:

    Thank you for mentioning Wally Wood. My earliest memories of Mad were of Batboy and Rubin, and Superduperman. Each panel was filled with so much humor and creativity. I very often see his influence in your parodies. I love seeing the little jokes you put into the background.

  2. JWB says:

    Another fellow Wood fan! Glad you mentioned WW! That early Mad work is spectacular, but I’m also a huge fan of his superhero stuff. So glad that DC issued hardcovers of the Thunder Agents from Tower Comics. And Wally did give Daredevil his solid red tights ( his battle with the Sub-Mariner is a Marvel classic! ). Could anyone draw better futuristic machinery? Then, of course, there’s the Wood women! Hubba hubba!


I’m in LA doing back to back Caricature workshops. Here’s the class illustration of workshop no. 1. Visit for all the details and to see where others are scheduled in 2018!

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