Back in MAD #488 (April 2008) the editorial staff decided to do a thought-provoking conceptual theme issue. In typical MAD fashion, they eschewed more meaningful concepts and ideas for something suitably low brow (and I mean LOW… as in simian). The concept they came up with was the “All Monkey Issue”, filled from front to back with gags about monkeys and apes. They even did a parody of the TV show “Monk” with Mort Drucker drawing a monkey instead of the lead character. Tony Shalhoub must have been disappointed (although the monkey looked a little like him more than occasionally)!
My job for the issue was a really different as well. I was called on to draw the staff of MAD as monkeys… or apes as the case may be. I was told not to worry that much about the likenesses of the actual people but to go more “ape” than human. I thought I could pull off both, but it was harder than I thought it would be.
First off, few apes or monkeys have anything resembling a human nose. The baboon/gibbon family have a snout of sorts, but most simians have just nostrils and no connecting cartilage to their brow. The inability to draw nose bridges and noses made likenesses a lot tougher. Also, most monkeys and apes have no hair between their lip and nostrils… no mustaches. Half the guys at MAD have mustaches and beards! All that aside, I started off by trying to pair a MAD staffer with a monkey or ape that they had some at least vague visual connection with.
Charlie has a gorilla brow…
As for Dick De… some were easier than others….
I defaulted to “chimp” for anyone I couldn’t get a more unique looking simian for. After much hair pulling and gnashing of teeth, I did my intital rough for the job:
That went over fairly well with the staff. I went on to the final:
Here are close ups of the two pictured above:
Obviously I had to take some liberties and often shoehorn human features into the monkey or ape face. I also mixed some aspects of different species and sometimes just made it up entirely. In some cases that took away from the simian aspects and made them look too human, but mostly they balanced out fairly well. An interesting exercise in problem solving. Finished spread at the top of this post.
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