I had a few people email me about that “Gladiator” parody I did for Cracked waaaay back in 2000 to see if I had any more of it. Well, I do. Quite a bit in fact. There is a sad and interesting story behind that job.
My artwork appeared in exactly four issues of Cracked, all published in late 1999/early 2000. The first two parodies I did I actually wrote myself, with some help on the second one by my pal Jim Batts. “God-Hilla”, a parody of the Mathew Broderick “Godzilla” film, appeared in Cracked #344. I wrote and drew that one as a sample to show newly-minted MAD art director Sam Viviano in the summer of 1999. He was not impressed. I showed it to the newly minted publisher/editor of Cracked, who immediately bought and printed it despite the movie being two years old by then. The second was a parody of “The Sopranos”, where Jim helped me out with some advice about the show and some gags. That one appeared in Cracked #345. Both of these were in black and white. Cracked actually had a color section in those days, wherefour spreads were printed on newsprint but in color, which means 16 total pages (8 actual pages but front and back of each) were color.
The next two parodies I did were written by comedy writer Barry Dutter, and I was assigned the art for these. The first was “eXcreMENt” in Cracked #346, a spoof of the first “X-Men” movie, and this was in color. The last was ‘Glad-Idiot” in Cracked #347. Like most issues of Cracked at the time, there were two parodies in each, and mine was one. The other was done by cartoonist Frank Cummings.
Here’s where things got messed up. I was told this would be the color parody. I was really working on improving my work, and so I spend a really long time on this splash page… especially the color. Looking back at it now, it seems like a pretty spare piece, but at the time it stretched me out. Imagine I have probably spent an entire day of my life coloring the crap out of that splash, I’m working on the second lower panel when I get a call from Cracked to say they are bumping the piece from the color section, so please covert what I’d done so far to black and white, and do the rest in grayscale.
The parody they decided to put in the color section in favor of “Gladiator”, which went on to win 5 Oscars? Are you ready for this?…
That should tell you all you need to know about the state of editorial at Cracked at the time.
It just so happens that I saved an old CD-ROM with the original color artwork from that parody in progress, so here is the world debut of the never-before-seen full color spash of “Glad-Idiot” from Cracked #347:
And here’s the rest of the story (sorry, that’s the best resolution I have on those):