Q: When drawing a MAD parody, are the artists assigned the project without any say in who appointed the job, or do you get to lobby to work on a specific task that you would love to take part in (i.e. the new Batman movie)?
A: The artist has no say in what movie or TV show they get assigned. That is entirely up to the editorial staff. That’s not to say an artist can’t make a case for why they should be strongly considered for a particular movie or TV show, but it rarely makes any difference. When the Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes came out, MAD artist Ray Alma reminded the MAD editors that he was a huge and long-time fan of the original films, had about a billion Planet of the Apes toys and was in general an expert on the franchise. The editor’s would certainly take that into consideration because part of the effectiveness of an artist with a particular subject is their familiarity with it. Someone who already religiously watches a TV show or is a big fan of a movie’s basis and is really “into it” has already done the research and has the insight into the subject matter. However there are other factors, the major one being artistic style, which can easily trump the familiarity card. Ray got that job, BTW, and his parody art for Planet of the Apes appeared in MAD #411.
I have only asked to be considered to do the art for two parodies: Batman Begins and The Lord of the Rings movies. I sent the MAD editors pictures of me age 5 in a Batman costume, and also me age 39 in a Batman costume (not the same one), and let them know I was a big batfan. I also am a fairly avid Tolkienist, having taught a class on the Rings trilogy when in high school (I don’t speak elvish . . . that is over the top) and having read The Rings books and The Silmarillion some several dozens of times over the years…and I mentioned that to the editors. I got assigned the Batman films, but Hermann Mejia was assigned the LotR movies likely because they felt his style of art fit the film’s look better (they were right). My efforts might have had something or nothing to do with getting Batman Begins, or not getting LotR.
Ultimately, the MAD editors assign the art to whichever artist they feel best fits the job, and of course who is available at the time.
Thanks to Ed Placencia of Lancaster PA 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!
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901 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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