Q: Regarding submitting work to MAD, I read your blog post about “breaking into MAD”, but the links to the submission guidelines are dead ends. Considering that there’s no submission section on the website, is it fine to mail the submissions to the address you mentioned under the FAQs section on your blog? Or MAD is not accepting submissions anymore? I am not a caricature artist (I’m more of a vampire caricaturist, I so suck at it). But, I can do cartoons and I can also do funny realistic portraits featuring Neuman in different forms, like those typical MAD covers. However, I read on the website that the covers are done only by the Usual Gang of Idiots. So, my questions is, in a submission, should I add those cover-esque artwork, or to put it this way—what should I add in the submission package?
A: When MAD redid their website a year or so back, they eliminated that submissions guideline page. Sorry about that dead link. I do not believe they have an updated version of it to link to, but MAD is always interested in new artists and work, so yes submissions are still accepted. Other than the link, that blog post you refer to still has very pertinent information about what to send and what not to send. Here’s a short version of some key points I think are important (remember, I don’t have anything to do with reviewing submissions to MAD . . . any info here is strictly my opinion on what I THINK they are interested in seeing):
- Submit unique work- They have never been interested in clones of their famous artists like Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, etc. and famously refuse to use artist’s whose work is too similar to those recognizable styles. They like fresh styles that can capture the MAD brand of humor.
- Don’t do your take on classic features- They don’t want to see your version of “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”, “Horrifying Cliches”, etc. Send something original.
- Demonstrate your storytelling- Not comic panels per se, but telling a story with an image. That’s what MAD is really looking for. There are many artists capable of doing a really nice drawing (especially caricatures), but does your drawing tell a story? Is it funny in and of itself? Does it convey a gag well?
- Do writer/artist concepts for recurring features- MAD is always looking for the next “Monroe” or other feature concept. If you can do that sort of thing, pitch something to them.
- Submit finished work- Don’t send sketchbook pages. They want to see your print-ready work.
With regard to your sending “cover-esque” art . . . by all means. However, some types of work are harder to get than others. Cover work is especially hard. They only have 6 overs a year, and Mark Fredrickson does most of them. In order to get considered for a cover job, Mark would need to be unavailable to do it, and then a long list of main artists like Mort Drucker or Richard Williams would have to pass before they considered anyone completely new. An artist looking to get into MAD would have a much better chance by submitting either full realized feature concepts, humorous spot illustrations, or short-narrative work. Most new artists either get started in the “Fundalini Pages” or “The Strip Club”. In fact, “The Strip Club” is probably the best place to “break in” to MAD. You can submit concepts from a daily strip format all the way to a full page format or anything in between. Very versatile, and they are always looking for unique, new stuff for that feature. From there it’s possible to gradually work your way into longer features and more steady work. Aussie artist Anton Emdin is a good example… he started out doing Fundalini spots, then he did some full page features and a MAD 20 piece, and this summer he did the “Twilight” movie series parody.
And, yes, good old-fashioned mailing is the best way to send them work. Email is too easy, and taking the time to put together a mail package shows effort and would likely get a better look. I know I would spend more time looking at a packet someone obviously spent time assembling and sending out, rather than some PDF attached to a 20 second email. Of course, I don’t review any art for MAD… thank God. Here’s the address:
c/o Sam Viviano, Art Director
New York, NY 10019
Thanks to Rupam 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!