2016 took yet another longtime member of the “Usual Gang of Idiots” with the passing of Don “Duck” Edwing on Dec 26th at the age of 84.
If I was required to name the most unsung hero in the history of MAD, it might be Duck. Not only did he have official bylines in over 250 issue of the magazine since 1961, he was also an uncredited writer for many later Don Martin and Spy vs. Spy cartoons and other features, as well as contributing cover ideas and “punching up” other scripts and articles. Behind the scenes Duck’s sense of humor and writing contributions were invaluable to what made MAD “MAD”.
I didn’t know him well but I was lucky enough to get to meet and spend some time with him back in 2012 at the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Awards in Las Vegas. That year happened to be MAD‘s 60th anniversary, and as the newly minted president of the NCS I didn’t hesitate in celebrating that milestone by putting together a MAD panel and having a 60’s MAD themed party to end the weekend. Here was the lineup:
Standing L to R: Nick Meglin, me, model Lynn Vacek, Don “Duck” Edwing,
model Mona Burns. Seated from left to right: Jack Davis, Sergio Aragonés, Al Jaffee,
and Sam Viviano. ©2012 Sampsel Preston Photography
I spent most of my time with this group freshening up their drinks, emptying the ashtrays and keeping my mouth shut, listening to all the amazing stories about MAD‘s golden age… and Duck was full of them. He seemed to be a reservoir of jokes, most of them filthy, that had no bottom. His grin was infectious… just a delight to be around.
During the weekend Nick mentioned to Duck that I was a big Sherlock Holmes fan. Both Duck and Nick are certified “Sherlockians”, and Duck immediately challenged me to some Homes trivia. Here’s how that went:
Duck: “In “The Sign of the Four”, Holmes sends Watson off to get a special dog to…”
Duck: “… You win.”
We spent some time chatting about Holmes and other stuff. Nick and Duck and I had tossed about the idea of doing a Holmes comic story together. Now we will never get the chance.
And how nice and generous a man was Duck? Here’s a clue. A week or so after the Reubens, I got a heavy box in the mail from him containing this, a life sized plaster bust of Brent Spiner as “Data” from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in his Holodeck role of Sherlock Holmes:
With the following note: “Tom, I’ve had this for some time and thought you’d like it. From one Holmes nut to another: Mit luv, Duck.” This is displayed prominently in my studio. I think of him every time it catches my eye.
Duck had been in poor health for some time and had been in a home in Tennessee for the last few years. I’m sorry to see he has passed and I hope he’s found peace. My condolences to his family and loved ones. So long, Duck. Thanks for the laughs!
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