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Wall of Shame: Pearls Before Swine

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

This piece is the one example of something that is not my own art on the Wall of Shame. Back in August my friend and hilarious syndicated strip cartoonist Stephen Pastis gave me a “cameo” in his popular strip Pearls Before Swine. Here it is again as it appeared in the Sunday funnies:

Click for a closer look

I told the story about how it came about in this post, but to make a long story short Stephen is a fan of MAD and likes my work. He came up with this gag and sprung it on me when we visited him in Santa Rosa while out there for my niece’s wedding. He had me draw that Barbra Streisand right on his original board. I used a Pitt brush pen. He did the rest of the strip around it.

A few weeks after it appeared in the comics, I recieved the original in the mail with a very nice acknowledgment at the bottom. The Lovely Anna framed it up along with a treated copy of the printed version. Stephen is a talented and incredibly funny writer and cartoonist, and I was thrilled to be “in” his strip.




I reciprocated by putting him in an issue of MAD, and I’m embarrassed to say I still have not send him the original page as I intend to put the text in place and have had no time to get to it. That’s on ‘my list’. A fun addition to the Wall of Shame.

Wall of Shame: NCS

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Yet another installment of the Wall of Shame, where I hang prints of some of my pieces that have been signed by the subjects. I don’t really have many because I don’t go chasing after signatures, or try and mail them. I only get them if chances allow and that doesn’t happen all that much. Incidentally if you want to see the previous posts about the Wall of Shame I have created a category for them, just click the link on the blogroll on the right.

These Wall of Shame pieces are’t like the others… they were never in MAD and have nothing to do with TV shows or movies. They are, however, some pieces I am the most proud of because of the subject matter and the reason I do them.

Back in 2002 the lovely Anna and I attended our third National Cartoonist Society Reuben Awards Weekend. This one was held in Cancun, Mexico and was not as well attended as previous Reubens. The reasons are debatable but I think it was because 9/11 had just happened 8 months earlier and folks were still a little freaked out by flying, especially out of the country. Anyway it was a lot more intimate than the events had been in the past. I have written in this space before that the Reubens can be more than a little intimidating to newcomers. This is not the fault of the attending artists, who are very open and friendly (most of them), but more because everybody seems to be old friends and it’s tough to break the ice when people are hugging each other like siblings who have been away from home for too long. New members are unofficially encouraged to bring along some of their work so other members can get familiar with what they do… the traditional Sunday brunch is the time for these things to be shared. I’d done some of that the past two years, but despite my often joking to the contrary, I am not very good at blowing my own horn. Anna, on the other hand, is a first degree horn blower when it comes to me. She is fiercely proud of me, and she took it upon herself to show everybody who would take a look my work (yes, she is a true gem and I am a very lucky man indeed).

One of the people she showed my work to was NCS president Steve McGarry. Turns out Steve and his sons actually still read MAD and were familiar with my work (at least that what he said). Steve is a terrific artist and a great guy, and he asked me if I would be interested in doing some artwork for the next Reuben Weekend. No pay, of course, but just for the organization. Naturally I was thrilled. What he asked me to do was design a scene incorporating caricatures of the guests speakers for the upcoming Reubens with elements of the location in which the event would take place. I was also asked to be one of the speakers. The art was used on the official Reuben T-shirt, on the canvas bag everyone gets their goodies in, and other stuff. This was the result:

Clockwise from far left: Me, Hilary Price, Bill Amend, Scott Adams,
Oliver Christianson, David Silverman, Pete Doctor, James Kemsley,
Stephen Pastis and Darby Conely. Click for Closer Look!

Steve was genuinely thrilled I was doing this. He had high resolution prints made of the art, and even made custom bowling shirts with the names of the speakers and board on the back, and our names on the front pocket. The print is what you see above, and I had the artists depicted sign it for me. I have not framed it yet, as I am still hoping to track down the missing two, Pixar’s Pete Doctor and Dilbert’s Scott Adams. They were either gone by the time I got the print or I just couldn’t corral them for a signature. Steve asked me to do it again the next year. He acted as if this was a huge imposition on me, but I think we both know it was a great honor… I know I have always felt it was so. I certainly am very happy to do such a little thing for such a great organization. I get some great perks at the Reubens also, so feel I am well compensated regardless.

This is the art for the 2004:

Foreground from left: Mort Drucker, Patrick McDonnell,
Sandra Boynton, Jules Fieffer. Back: Mel Lazarus

And my signed and framed print on the Wall of Shame:


Here’s the art for the last two years… we didn’t get prints for signatures on these.

Clockwise outside from bottom left: Darrin Bell, Jay Stephens,
Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, Gahan Wilson, Scott Shaw!,
Glenn McCoy, Gary McCoy. Passenger in coach: Lal Alcaraz.
Divers from left: Ann Telnaes, Mike Luchovich, Joel Pett.

From the left: Stephen Silver, Everett Peck, Ralph Steadman,
Elwood Smith, Cathy Guisewite (the roastee), and Dick Locher.

Steve’s long reign as president ended and last year Soup to Nutz cartoonist Rick Stromoski took over as head honcho. Rick asked me to continue doing the art, and I am supposed to do it again this year. I will always be happy to, of course. It’s great fun and there’s nothing like seeing Garry Trudeau or Jack Davis walking around with a piece of your artwork on their T-shirt…

Wall of Shame: The OC

Friday, November 24th, 2006

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here is another piece hanging on my Wall of Shame.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, I have an area outside my studio where I hang framed prints of some of my MAD splash pages that have been signed by some of the subjects depicted in them. They all have a story. I previously recounted the stories of how I got the ones of the Sopranos, Two and a Half Men and of Lost. The piece for today’s Wall of Shame was for the parody of the TV show The O.C..

Unlike the previous stories, this one did not involve getting called for the original art from the producer or studio of the show itself, but rather directly from one of the actors. Well, actually from her dad. I received an e-mail from a gentleman named Danny Bilson. Danny is a well known writer/director/executive producer who created the 90’s TV series The Sentinel, and has numerous other credits including the TV series Viper (creator), writer for the TV series The Flash and the screenplay for The Rocketeer. Lately he’s been writing for video games, especially for the James Bond series. With all the comic book related endeavors, it was not surprising to hear from him that he is a big fan of MAD Magazine. Danny also happens to be the father of actress Rachel Bilson, who is of course one of the stars of The O.C. When he saw the parody in MAD he googled me and inquired about the original art for the splash. He related the Michael J. Fox quote about how he “knew he’d made it when he was drawn by Mort Drucker in MAD”, and he felt the same about Rachel being in the magazine. Of course I quickly pointed out that being drawn by me rather than Mort in MAD was more like a baseball player getting to play catch with Bob Uecker instead of Babe Ruth, but he was not deterred.

Unfortunately I did not have that art anymore. I like to occasionally put people I know into the art as background characters, and in this particular case I did that in the splash. Because it was The O.C., a show about teenagers in California’s Orange County, I included the teenage sons of then National Cartoonist Society President, Ornage County resident and terrific cartoonist Steve McGarry on the beach lusting after Mischa Barton. Steve had been a great friend and a big fan of my work, and had really made Anna and I become known and feel welcome in the NCS… not an easy thing in such a big organization where most members are old friends and newcomers sometimes feel like wallflowers. Anyway I gave Steve that original in gratitude for all he’s done for me. I don’t regret that at all, but I did feel bad that I did not have it for Danny.

Instead, I tapped MAD to send me two over sized prints of the splash. I mailed both to Danny plus the only other page in the parody that featured Rachel’s caricature. I just gave him the page… ordinarily I’d sell it but again I felt bad and single pages of a parody aren’t really very sellable anyway. I asked that he give one of the prints to Rachel to get some signatures in ‘payment’ for the page.

A few weeks later I got it back, with signatures from Rachel and Adam Brody, her love interest on the show and in real life. Apparently it was during a taping break from the show, so no other cast signatures. Then again maybe the other stars of the show were just pissed off at their caricatures… although I am pretty tame compared to many caricaturists. Either way I ended up with this piece that hangs proudly on the Wall of Shame:

Click image for a closer look

Interestingly enough this remains the only piece I’ve ever done in MAD that I received hate mail from. It seems a few people were a little upset about my depiction of Mischa Barton. One told me I’d made her look like a “holocaust victim”, and in general most of the e-mails were angry that I made the girl who’s poster resided on the ceiling above their beds look anything less than hot. Sorry, but the skin and bones body I gave her was an example of ‘selling the gag’… her word balloon referred to her being “skinny enough to make Paris Hilton want to join Weight Watchers”. That required a visual:

A bony Barton being oogled by Joe and Luke McGarry

Whatever. If anything my caricatures are probably too tame, so if I got a little more of this kind of reaction it might not be a bad thing!

The Wall of Shame: Lost

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

I’ve mentioned before that some TV shows that I parody in MAD I could care less about. I’ll watch as many episodes as possible to get a feel for the show and what it is about, the quirks and little things I can make fun of, and then never watch it again after I’m done with the art. Occasionally, however, I’ll start watching a show and get hooked on it. The ultimate example of that is when I was assigned to do the art for Lost. The show was already 10 episodes into season one when I got the job, so finding previous episodes was not easy. MAD sent me a bunch on DVD that someone there must have recorded as they aired, and I sat down after dinner one evening thinking I’d watch one or two episodes, and some more over the next few days… I ended up staying up all night watching every one I had! I was missing one, so I bit-torrent downloaded it on my computer. I haven’t missed an episode since! In honor of tonight’s season premiere, I thought I’d share one of the best pieces I have on the Wall of Shame: my splash page from the Lost parody and the especially interesting story that goes along with it. For those who are not familiar with the Wall of Shame, read my previous posts here and here.

For a larger image see the MAD Art page

After the parody was published I got a call from Lost producer J.J. Abram‘s office asking about the original artwork. J.J. is apparently a big MAD fan and he wanted both the splash from my parody and Hermann Mejia‘s painted cover. Naturally we worked that out, but I neglected to ask about getting a signed print as part of the deal. I can’t remember why, but part of it might have been that J.J. is in L.A. and the cast is in Hawaii, or they might have been on hiatus or something. Anyway that didn’t happen this time. J.J. was thrilled with the art, though, which was cool.

In 2005 I attended the San Diego Comic Con for the first time in 10 years. I was excited to find out several of the actors from Lost would be appearing there promoting the show and a set of licensed trading cards some company was producing. I got one of those oversized poster prints of the splash from MAD and took it with me to try and get it signed by whoever was there. I visited the card company’s booth and found I needed to be there at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning to get in line for the autographs. Seeing as how 9:30 was when they opened the gates to the place, and I was a guest and therefore allowed in early, I knew I’d be able to get there before the rush and guarantee a spot in line.

That morning rolled around. I was hanging out near the card booth waiting for the appointed time, as were several others. The problem was that the organization of this line was left up to two of the biggest assholes I’ve ever run into at one of these events. One was a steroid-infused troglodyte who’s knuckles just cleared the floor and the other was a short Jet-Li look-alike in an expensive suit. Both were clearly enamored of the fact they they had walkie-talkies with earpieces and short term power over the masses. When 9:30 rolled around we were told to disperse and come back later. Nobody would say when or why, just that we had to leave. The troglodyte actually yelled at a woman in a wheelchair who was pointing to the “line forms at 9:30″ sign asking why the line was not starting, saying “I’ll tell you when to get in line!!!” No kidding. It was pathetic. Clearly this was not going to work out, so I just went back to the booth I was at for the show and went to plan “B”.

Plan “B” is so called because the “B” stands for “Bullshit”. Once the actual autograph appearance was underway (hours later) I went back to the card booth with my poster print. I went to the opposite side of the area where the crowd was trying to get a peek at the actors, spotted a woman obviously in charge of the group, and then went up to one of the other booth workers who was selling cards in the corner.

“Hi, I’m looking for the coordinator from ABC”, I said. “Julie… I think. Brown hair and glasses.”.
“You mean Catherine?”, the sales lady said.
“That’s the one!” I replied.

She pointed out the woman I had seen. I circled around behind her and muscled my way to the roped off edge of the area.

“Catherine?” I said loudly.
“Yes?” she said as she turned to me.

I then launched into the “B” part, where I showed her the MAD print and told her I was the artist, and that I had talked to J.J. about being here today and getting some signatures on it. I told her it was part of the deal for selling him my original artwork, and he said to come up and ask for “Catherine”.

“Yes! I’ve seen your artwork up in his office,” she said. “Do you have a ticket for a signature?”

I did not of course, that’s what the line was supposed to be for earlier in the day… apparently starting whenever at the whim of two jerks. She gave me a ticket and ushered me to the end of the line, which had been closed off for over an hour. Ha! Score: Troglodytes: 0, Lying Caricature Artists: 1.

When I got up to the front of the line, I got to meet Maggie Rutherford (Shannon) and Josh Holloway (Sawyer). Both were very nice and Shannon asked me where I got the large print of the MAD spread. When I told her I was the artist she and Josh went on and on about how everybody loved being in MAD and that copies of the issue it was in were all over the set for weeks. That was really nice to hear, of course. A group of the writers of the show who were sitting next to Josh and Maggie overheard and all of them wanted to know if they could get copies of the oversize print I had. They also were big fans of MAD and raved about the parody (that never gets old). I made a deal with Bryan Burk, one of the main writers. I told him I’d arrange to get prints made for them and send them to him, and all he had to do was pay for the actual cost of the prints and do me a small favor. The favor was to figure out how I could get the rest of the cast to sign my print. He said that would not be a problem.

I had the prints done for them at a local graphics house (MAD sent me the file with the text in place… they were unable to do it for me this time) and it was only a little over $20.00 per print. I sent my print to “Grass Skirt Productions” in Hawaii to the attention of a nice lady in charge there as per Bryan’s direction. It took a long time, but eventually what I got back was the print signed by every actor from the show on the splash:


Maybe someday I’ll be able to add Tom Hanks and Peter Graves, as they have cameos (I won’t hold my breath on that one). Right now this beauty hangs proudly on my “Wall of Shame”, a testament to MAD’s popularity and the power of B.S. Can’t wait for the season premiere tonight. Since the new season is upon us I may not be able to resist a Lost review or examination weekly. If I succumb to that, I apologize to anyone who couldn’t care less but is a regular blog visitor.

The Wall of Shame, Part Deux

Friday, September 8th, 2006

Here’s another image and story from the Wall of Shame. For infrequent visitors, the Wall of Shame is an area just outside my studio where I have framed prints of some of my artwork signed by some of the subjects I have caricatured in them. Every once and a while someone connected with a show or movie sees the parody in MAD and wants to buy the originals. Part of the purchase price is a promise to get some signatures on an oversized print of the splash page. It doesn’t always work out, but sometimes it does and I’ve got a few of these prints on the Wall of Shame. Each one has a little story.

MAD #450 contained a 5 page parody I did of a CBS TV show called “Two and a Half Men”, starring Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer, among others. It’s about a wild bachelor musician (he writes TV commercial jingles) who takes in his uptight divorced brother and son and hilarity ensues. It’s like the Odd Couple with a kid. The show is very popular and gets great ratings, but since I never watch TV I had not seen it. I TIVOed several episodes and found it was a consistently amusing show. Anyway, I did the art and had fun with it. Even before the issue came out, the show’s producer, Chuck Lorre, got wind of it’s impending skewering in MAD and contacted the offices about getting the original artwork. MAD referred him to me. Here’s the splash page, you can see a bigger version of it in the MAD Art section.


I actually spoke with Chuck (as opposed to his “people”, as they say in show business), and he was very excited about “Two and a Half Men” being in MAD. Another show he had produced, Dharma and Greg, had gotten the MAD treatment a few years back, with Angelo Torres doing the art, and he raved about how cool it was to be in MAD. I believe he bought those originals as well. He has been a big fan of the magazine for a long time. I doubt he knew my work at all, being fairly new to MAD and also being no comparison to Mort Drucker or most of the longtime Usual Gang of Idiots, but regardless he was anxious to own the originals. I had MAD send me a digital file of the text so I could print it out on my archival inkjet and paste it up for him… the art looks so much more like a real MAD piece when it doesn’t have gaping holes and empty word balloons. So I sent him the originals, along with one of the oversized prints of the splash to get some signatures. I think both he and some of the art department folks at MAD mentioned that they thought I really went after Cryer with the art, giving him enormous lips, no chin and in general ripping him up in the caricatures. They all thought that was great, but it was pointed out nonetheless. I confess I may have been extra hard on him as a result of my being occasionally called “Duckie” in college thanks to an alleged resemblance to Cryer in the 1986 film “Pretty in Pink”. Revenge is sweet!

Usually when I ask for something like a signed print, I’m lucky to get two or three signatures from the cast. TV shows don’t often feature every character every episode, and these producers and production people are busy. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to get the print back with the signatures of every cast member featured on it. That had never happened before.

Click for a closer look

I wanted Chuck to sign it too, but he thought it was better to just have the cast. It’s a great addition to the Wall of Shame, but the story doesn’t stop there. Chuck was so enthusiastic about things that, after the issue came out, he had the entire cast take a picture on the set reading the issue and looking appropriately sick to their stomachs, with one of the writers (I think) in an Alfred E. Neuman mask behind them. That appeared in the letters page of a later issue… I don’t recall the number off the top of my head. Finally, in an episode later that season the kid, Jake, is shown reading a copy of MAD while sitting on the couch.

I thought all of that was telling of the impact MAD has had on the today’s generation of comedy writers and producers for TV and other forms of entertainment. To have a big time producer of a hit TV show get that excited about an appearance in MAD demonstrates that it’s influence on current humor creators cannot be overstated. Recent references to MAD in cutting edge comedy shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” further underscore that point. I’m proud to be a small part of that tradition, even if it has ruined my reputation.

One further note on “Two and a Half Men”. Longtime MAD and E.C. historian, author of several books on MAD and E.C. Comics and brilliant musician Grant Geissman wrote the theme for that show. I drew him into the parody as well, as a beach bum strumming on a guitar.

The Wall of Shame

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

MAD might not have anywhere near the circulation it did in it’s heyday (what magazine does these days??) but there is still a special place in some people’s hearts for MAD that gets them very enthusiastic about getting made fun of in it’s pages. Michael J. Fox was once quoted as saying he knew he’d “made it” as an actor when he was drawn by Mort Drucker in MAD. Usually the MAD movie and TV parodies I’m lucky enough to illustrate see print and nothing more comes of it, but every once and awhile one of the people connected with a show that gets lampooned gets very excited about it. Personally I’d be upset if I was an actor and finally was in a show or movie big enough to get the MAD treatment, and then open the issue looking for my Mort Drucker caricature only to find I was drawn by some schmuck named Tom Richmond, but nonetheless just being in MAD is cool to some people and I occasionally get contacted through MAD about buying the original artwork.

It’s hard to figure out what to charge for originals, so I just start at a base page rate and go from there. I’ve only had a few people refuse the price I ask, which I have been told is way too low, but some celebrities expect you to just fawn all over them and offer it for nothing just because they are famous. MAD artist Ray Alma told me a story once about how Gene Simmons contacted him concerning his original art for the movie parody of “Detroit Rock City”. Apparently he was expecting Ray to just give it to him for free, and refused to pay even the reasonable price Ray asked for. His loss.

Maybe I’m not willing to give away my originals just because the someone asking is famous, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the talents of some of the creators and actors in the parodies, or the shows and movies they are in. Some shows or movies I do the art for I never really get into, have no further interest in or plain old can’t stand. However some I really end up liking, and continue to watch after the job is over. In the case of “Lost”, I got addicted and never miss an episode! When I get contacted by someone associated with a show/film I like, I try and negotiate a little extra something in the form of a signed print. MAD is nice enough to print out an oversized proof of a splash page for me if I ask for it for just such a purpose. I offer the pages for a little less than usual and ask for some of the actors and creators of the show to sign the print. Sometimes those interested just want the art and won’t sign anything, but sometimes they are really enthusiastic about it and are more than willing to get some signatures on the print for me. There is an area just outside my studio where I have framed some of these prints, which I call the “Wall of Shame”. Each one has a little story, and I’ll shamelessly show off one of them here on the blog occasionally and tell about how I got it. The first one is one of the best… The Sopranos!

Back in issue #422 (2002) I did a two pager called “A MAD Peek Behind the Scenes on the Set of the Sopranos“. This was the first “Behind the Scenes of…” feature I did, and have since done several. They consist of a big single scene, usually from above looking down, full of caricatures of the actors from the show, and sometimes the writers, directors and other creators. This one obviously was of the Sopranos, a show I had been a fan of since I did a parody of it for Cracked. I had a lot of fun doing the art and caricaturing all the actors, a total of 21 including creator David Chase. A few months after the issue came out, I was contacted by one of the producers of the show, Terry Winter, about getting the original and some prints for the cast. I really wanted to get a few signatures of any of the cast members on a print for myself, but unfortunately by the time the prints were done the show’s season had wrapped and it would be 18 months before they got back to filming. I thought that was the end of it, but Terry told me to send him the print anyway and he’d see what he could do.

18 months later, I got an e-mail from Terry saying he was sending out the print. A few days later I got the package from him, containing this:


Signed by no less than 10 cast members including James Gandlofini, Steve Van Zandt, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese, Tony Sirico, Lorraine Bracco, Aido Tuturro, Steven Schirripa and David Chase. He also sent me a copy of the magazine he had signed at a different time which included signatures by Drea De Matteo. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Edie Falco and others. I wasted no time in framing this print and putting it on the Wall of Shame. Terry really went out of his way to do this for me, especially after a year and a half had gone by. This signature and the added “comment” is my favorite part of the whole thing (sorry for the off-focus):


I though that was appropriate coming from “Tony Soprano” himself! I’ll post some of my other treasures in the future.


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