Sunday Mailbag- How Long for MAD Jobs?

June 18th, 2017 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: How long does it typically take you to do a MAD parody?

A: As long as they give me.

Seriously, that’s the real answer. I am given a deadline, and I turn in the art on that deadline. If the job is a six page parody and the deadline is in 4 weeks, it takes me four weeks. If the deadline is in two weeks, it takes me two weeks. In the former case I am able to work on other jobs as well, and do things like sleep. In the latter, not so much. I have been given as long as 5 weeks by MAD to do a 6 pager, and as short as 10 days to do an 8 pager. A lot of work goes in to the parody by the staff before I get it, and the print schedule dictates deadlines as much as workflow.

In a perfect world, where I am able to spend what most people would consider a “normal” amount of hours working in a day (say 9ish), I probably spend 3 days on each page of a MAD TV/movie parody. That’s actual art time, mind you… not research. That 3 days includes roughs, tighter pencils, inks, and color. So a 6 page parody would take me 18 days given a leisurely pace.

That said I never work like that. I binge work. I need the pressure of a deadline to keep me on task and to jump start whatever creative juices I have in me. Otherwise I sit and noodle around on some small aspect of something forever and am never happy with it. So I always end up having to put in several long days to get something done. The trick to that is not leaving it so late that I cannot get the work done in time. I almost never turn anything in early, BUT I have never missed a deadline.


Thanks to Bill Jensen 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!


  1. Plaid Klaus says:

    Great breakdown, 3 days a page is great, especially considering all the caricature involved. I can’t imagine doing 8 pages in 10 days that’s insane.

    Keep up the good work Tom!


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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