Q: Did you ever illustrate something serious?
A: I am not sure if the “serious” in your question is asking if I’ve ever done a job where had to do a realistic style of art, or if I have ever done any jobs where the subject matter was “serious”.
If it’s the former, only once. I don’t remember ever being hired to do anything of a realistic nature except this one time, when Minnesota Twins magazine asked me to do a realistic portrait of Kirby Puckett for their cover. The art director at the time was an old college chum of mine, and he remembered I did some pretty decent realistic portrait work back in school. I did a penciled version for them and that’s as far as it got. The team overseers decided they didn’t like the idea of a painted portrait for their cover (I was told the idea was pitched to them along with my pencil sketch), and had Kirby do a photo shoot instead. The AD insisted it had nothing to do with the artwork, but I have a feeling my portrait skills had eroded a bit since college and the artwork was hardly a home run (if you’ll forgive the pun), and that contributed to the switch to a photo. I think I gave the pencil sketch to one of my nephews who was a big Twins and Puckett fan, so I don’t have it to see how badly it sucked.
As for the latter, I’ve illustrated plenty of stories on “serious” issues, but have always been called on to lighten up the theme or point out the absurdities of the situation. I do remember one I did for the “MAD 20” years ago that had to do with the Terry Schiavo debacle that I thought had a tragic and “serious” feel to it despite the goofy imagery. I’ll try and dig up the original artwork and share it tomorrow for Monday MADness.
Thanks to Dominick Zeillinger 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 your questions and I’ll try and answer them here!
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