Stooges Week! Joe Besser

November 4th, 2013 | Posted in Sketch O'The Week


Last week I posted this sketch of Shemp Howard, one of the “Three Stooges” (well, “Six Stooges” really, but only three performed at a time). It went over pretty well, so I have decided to make this week “Stooges Week” here on Tom’s MAD Blog! I’ll be posting a new sketch of a Stooge each day. Since Shemp has already appeared, we’ll do the other five as the week goes on. Today’s Stooge is Joe Besser, who took over for Shemp after Shemp took over for Curly who took over for Shemp.

Before you write me to ask “what about Fred Sanborn, Joe Palma and Emil Sitka?”, read these two comments:

First, I am only doing those who appeared in shorts, films and TV under the title “The Three Stooges”, and were credited as a Stooge… that eliminates Sanborn (who appeared in Moe, Larry and Shemp’s first film¬¨‚Ć “Soup 2 Nuts”, but they were not yet “The Three Stooges”), Palma (who did “back facing” stand in shots for Shemp to complete partially shot films after Shemp’s death but was not credited as a “Stooge”, and Sitka (who never appeared in any film or TV show as a Stooge)

Second, you know way too much about the Three Stooges… go out and meet some girls. Got it, Knucklehead?

Incidentally, all these Stooge sketches were done digitally.


  1. says:

    Dear Tom,

    You are without question a second-rate Mort Drucker clone.

    Just like Al Feldstein was a second-rate Harvey Kurtzman clone.

    MAD has been dealing in second-rate clones for decades!

    • Rich Griffin says:

      Nice. I don’t think many here would agree.

      • Tom says:

        Thanks for the defense, but I’m pretty sure that’s meant as a joke… anyone who would say that Al Feldstein was a clone of Harvey Kurtzman is either joking or has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. The two could not have been more different.

  2. Elizandro says:

    I am an artist and I know that Tom is one of the best cartoonists of all time. Sure, there are other and also are good.

  3. says:

    Hi again Tom,

    Yes, I am serious. As serious as an art attack!

    I was just reading through your old posts and also the Amazon kerfuffle.

    When Kurtzman left MAD Feldstein took up the editorial reigns. In doing so he modelled himself on his predecessor.

    At times he even spoofed the famous Kurtz(man) autograph with a Feld(stein).

    MAD attempted to clone what Harvey had achieved and the successive editors, writers and artists have continued in that (jugular) vein. There are Mort Drucker clones working for the various MAD imprints the world over.

    I’m one of them!

    Some bring more to the party others less. Looking at your work I’d say your 60% – 80% Drucker and 20% – 40% Richmond.

    Yes, that’s my opinion. I’m aware you disagree, as do your editors, but the fact is that you are all clones. MAD has been imitating MAD (with varying success) since the 1950’s. The basic formula has been (very deliberately) retained over and over. Occasionally someone more unique pops up like Meija but mostly it’s Emdins.

    Thanks for the platform, Tom.


    • Tom says:


      I approved your posts because I don’t mind disapproving opinions of my work… that’s just life. However in saying Feldstein was a “clone” of Kurtzman and that all MAD has done is rip itself off for 50 years, and then saying you weren’t joking? I’, sorry, but you lost any credibility you might have had with that comment.

      Kurtzman’s original MAD was so completely different than the format and style Feldstein, Meglin and the rest of the post-Kurtzman era MAD editors editors created that, if compared side by side today with the titled front covers missing, no one would believe it was the same publication. About the only thing Feldstein did continue was the use of yiddish and New York-urban slang. Then you lose further credibility suggesting Anton Emdin’s work is more unoriginal Drucker cloning. That is beyond ridiculous. His style couldn’t be farther from Mort’s.

      Thanks for the input, though. 🙂

  4. Bill says:

    Tom, are you really “” ?
    Caught you, didn’t we?

  5. Unclejed says:

    Tom, I’m Begging you – us numbskulls really do need a limited edition print of The Stooges to go with our James Bonds and Dr Who’s!!! Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk! Woob, Woob, Woob !!!

  6. Bill says:…do you have an agenda? or just trolling around to tick people off?

  7. says:

    Having read the recent remarks about Tom and Mort I felt compelled to enter the debate.

    Tom is a very talented artist. What he does is extremely difficult. But he does it in the shadow of Drucker. Personally, I don’t see a problem with that. I only see a problem when Tom denies it. MAD will only continue if it maintains its stable and it certainly needs someone of Tom’s calibre. If, however, MAD stopped being so formulaic it could encompass a more unique array of creators. Currently, by design, it leaves very little room for originality. Particularly as up and coming MAD artists have been influenced by the preceding generation.

    Thanks again for your patience, Tom

    • Tom says:

      I wouldn’t argue that we all work in the shadows of Drucker, Davis, Wood and the greats from the hey-day of MAD. I think your definition of “clone” is different than mine. You seem to equate “clone” with anyone who works within the framework of a particular format. MAD parodies are MAD parodies. Drucker, Davis, Viviano, Torres, North, Mejia… they all do caricature based comic book style storytelling. I consider a “clone” to be an artist that apes the artistic style of another artist… i.e. actively attempts to draw like them, solve visual problems like them, etc. I don’t do that.

  8. Bill says: Wouldn’t your opinions be better served on an art discussion page, rather than on Tom’s website? It’s like going to someone’s house and crapping on their porch! There has to be a more appropriate place to state your opinions(?)….., just not here!

  9. says:

    I would argue that Anton Emdin is primarily influenced by Jack Davis. Followed by John K or Bill Wray, which is rather interesting because they too have been influenced by MAD (among others) Perhaps that is one reason why Anton’s work is naturally very ‘MAD’ looking, but he is, therefore, not of contrast within the pages of MAD.

    Tom, like Anton, is also a rare talent but he’s not unique either. They do not bring anything ‘new’ to MAD, they simply continue in the house style.

    ‘Simply’ is rather unfair. Tom really champions MAD and that takes ability, hard work and dedication. I’m not sure of the extended abilities of the afore mentioned but perhaps if more of the MAD crew were allowed greater freedom the mag would make for a more interesting read. I for one think Tom could do some great cover work in his lush colouring style. If Tom wasn’t pigeonholed in the Drucker movie parody department he may finally get the opportunity to grow. But the fact is he’s almost entirely limited to the area his art most resembles – hence a ‘clone’

    Perhaps you aren’t pigeonholed, Tom? Perhaps other MAD work just doesn’t appeal? Conversely, perhaps you’d love to write your own material and contribute something totally different.

    Either way, we all know what to expect from each upcoming issue of MAD. And have done for many, many years. Whilst I maintain that MAD is imitating itself, I don’t necessarily believe it’s redundant. MAD may continue to enthral even in its diluting incarnation. Though it will be interesting to see if MAD chooses to evolve after some of the longstanding creators move on. Will there be a third version of Spy vs Spy after the demise of Peter Kuper. Will Wolverton have yet another Wolverton? Can existing creators replicate their contemporaries like Ray Alma attempts to do with Herman Meija.

    Perhaps by spoofing itself MAD will become even more MAD? Or will it finally come to an end in the most fitting of ways – a parody of itself.

    • Bill says: Have you been checked for a brain tumor? At 63, I still buy MAD magazine because it is like comfort food! I know what to expect and thoroughly enjoy each issue! It has found a niche, and does a great job filling it! Don’t like it, or are disappointed with it, then don’t buy it, and move on!
      People visit Tom’s site because they are fans.
      Start your own blog and bitch all you want! You’re in the wrong place, if you’re looking for people to agree with you!

      • Tom says:

        Actually, Michael’s comments have been very thoughtful and respectful. He’s voicing his opinion, mostly that he believes MAD is stagnant and just following it’s formula with no originality anymore. By his definition I guess that’s actually been true since the 60’s… MAD does what it does, has its format and largely sticks to it because it’s been working for 60 plus years. I would argue that in the last 10 years MAD has shown more originality and change than most of the previous 40 years, with additions like The Fundalini Pages, the Strip Club, Planet Tad and writer/artists like Teresa Burns-Parkhurst, Ted Rall and Evan Dorkin. Yes, there are old chestnuts like the Fold-in, Sergio, Spy vs. Spy and the movie/TV parodies. These are staples of the magazine. If your need for redefinition is only served by throwing the baby out with the bathwater, then those needs are better served by reading something else, I think.

        This has been an interesting conversation, but I think it’s gone on long enough. I appreciate the respectful tone, Michael, even if I disagree with much (but not all) of what you say.


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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