Uproxx.com’s Gamma Squad just released a sneak peek of the splash page of the parody of “House of Cards”, written by David Shayne and drawn by me (but, of course, Uproxx doesn’t mention that). You can read the rest of the parody in MAD #532, due on newsstands next Tuesday!
MAD Magazine fandom lost a really fantastic source of joy and MAD scholars lost a really fantastic resource this past weekend when the MAD Cover Site shut its digital doors forever. All that’s left of its seemingly endless MAD data is a placeholder.
The MAD Cover Site was the individual effort of one person, MAD Superfan Doug Gilford. Doug started it on Aug 17th, 1997 as part of the late Dick Hanchette‘s Collectmad.com website. It began as a collection of scans of the all the covers of MAD through the years, along with a list of each issues highlights (or lowlights depending on your perspective). Doug began adding lists of all the movie and TV parodies that had appeared, in alphabetical order with the real movie or show title and the issue in which it appeared. Over the years it expanded, including the full contents of each issue and higher resolution scans of covers, special issue covers and contents, MAD book lists and a lot more. In the last couple of years he started a MAD contributor database, where you could look up any major writer or artist and find a list of the features they worked on , which issue it appeared in and which collaborator (if any) they worked with. I’m especially going to miss that feature, because I would often use it to check and see the title of something I worked on or who was the writer on that particular piece. I have my own personal list of such info, but visiting Doug’s site was always a joy and I found myself clicking links to see the credits of writers I’d worked with and remembering pieces I’d read in MAD years ago.
Doug just suddenly announced he was shutting it down, and within a couple of weeks all those countless hours of work collecting, researching and listing was gone. Well, you can use the Web Archive.org resource to see “snapshots” of it over the years… Here’s what it looked like in 1998, and here is the last snapshot when everything was still active (although not all links work). While those archives last you can still appreciate the enormous amount of work Doug put in for nothing but his love of the magazine.
So, why did it end? Doug really doesn’t elaborate, but perhaps it became too much work for not enough return. Lack of appreciation, both tangible and intangible, eventually wears one down when doing a truly thankless task. Or perhaps Doug’s life priorities just demanded he stop, and if he could he would have kept going. Maybe it’s a little of both. No one knows but Doug.
At least we still have Mike Slaubaugh‘s MAD Lists!
All I know is I visited Doug’s site often, and marveled at his attention to detail, his seemingly tireless effort to be accurate and thorough with his data, and his quest to be as complete as possible. He did more to preserve the history of MAD than just about anyone I know. Thank you, Doug, for seventeen years of informative fun and invaluable resource. Stay MAD.
Q: I there any part of a project you DON’T like to draw? In other words do you find it anathema to draw anything mechanical or architectural or anything otherwise mundane. — such as animals or cars or trees, etc.? Similarly, do you have concerns when drawing perspectives, foreshortening, etc.?
A: Not really. Drawing mechanical things like buildings or cars is a little different from drawing organic things like plants or people only because the latter requires more rigid order with the forms and the former is more fluid and…uh… “organic” is really the only adjective that applies. Both are just things that are are made up of shapes, so as long as you can draw shapes you can draw them.
I know some people really hate drawing mechanical stuff (especially some caricature artists, who seem to get very disinterested in anything that does not have a neck connected to the bottom of it), but I actually enjoy doing buildings and such. My style is sort of half way between straight cartooning and straight illustration, but I still skew things I draw a little to the cartoony side. Therefore drawing a building or car is not like doing a mechanical drawing of it… I’m “interpreting” the building or car in my own style, which is a little challenging and also a little forgiving when it comes to strict proportion, perspective, or detail. Here are some examples:
This splash page for MAD‘s parody of “Everyone Hates Chris” is set on a Brooklyn street. The buildings are simplified versions of what you’d really see on a street like that… windows are not really that close to the corners of buildings, many details are left out, and the perspective is not just cheated but warped. The important elements are there, though.
This MAD splash is also set in a city street but called for a very different feel. The buildings are still simplified and the perspective is again warped, but tje basic mechanics are there. That batwing took some time to draw, I can tell you. I’ve noticed that the “gadget” stuff in movies is a lot more complex than it used to be, with flaps and vents and all kinds of weirdness all over things like superhero armor, space ships and vehicles. Real freaking fighter jets aren’t that complex.
I know I have recently posted this image, but it’s a good example of taking something very mechanical and “interpreting” it as a cartoony-er image but keeping the mechanics intact:
You know, there is something I really dislike drawing. Bicycles. Bicycles are a real pain in the ass to draw, especially the wheels.
I guess “Weird Al” Yankovic is moonlighting in the publication biz these days. Al tweeted recently that he will be the first ever “guest” editor for MAD Magazine in issue #533, due out in April.
The official MAD Press release:
“The Usual Gang of Idiots” are getting a new Idiot-in-Chief! Celebrated musical satirist and comedian “Weird Al” Yankovic, the biggest-selling comedy recording artist in history, will helm the next issue of MAD as the legendary humor magazine’s first-ever guest editor.
Winner of the 2015 Grammy® for Best Comedy Album, Weird Al is the writer of some of the biggest song parodies in history.
Speaking from the MAD offices in New York, current “Idiot-in-Chief” John Ficarra said, “Al will surely ruin his nearly four decades of popularity by associating with MAD. I still can’t believe we talked him into it!”
Among Weird Al’s many duties will be writing an introduction to the issue, contributing (along with some of his celebrity friends) to the Fund”AL”ini Pages, and picking his favorite MAD article for the Vault section. Other ridiculous responsibilities are yet to be determined but will certainly do nothing to advance his career.
“It was my childhood dream to one day be a contributor to MAD Magazine,” said Weird Al. “This is an excellent example of why children are never allowed to make important decisions.”
Readers are invited to make Weird Al’s life even harder by sending letters for MAD’s Letters and Tomatoes section at email@example.com. Weird Al will provide dumb answers to the dumbest questions.
Start saving your dollars because MAD #533 will hit newsstands on April 21 at an absurd price!
The good news is there is a chance, probably still very small but A CHANCE, that this issue of MAD might actually be funny. No hope for the artwork of course, but the jokes….
Hoo boy. Here’s some humbling stuff that I thought was lost to all eternity until I discovered an archive of my website from 1997. The images aren’t too sharp but here are a bunch of old theme park caricature examples of mine from the early to mid 90’s, awkward lumpy bodies, broken-looking hands and all. There were meant to be examples of the live graphite and airbrush style we used. Hard to believe a few of these are nearly 25 years old:
This week’s SotW is another in my little run of “The Walking Sketches”, this time of fan favorite Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier. I did something a little different this week and did this with a couple of different sized Micron pens.
- Looks like I will be attending the Toronto Comic Con on behalf of the National Cartoonists Society, as we will be having a booth there this year. That will be taking place March 20-22nd, and you can come by and meet all sorts of NCS cartoonists from the Great White North including “Between Friends” creator Sandra Bell Lundy! I’ll have stuff along like prints, books and original art, plus I’ll be doing sketches.
- I also recently got the news I will have my own booth at San Diego Comic-Con this year. I’ll be in booth H-4, sort of over by Sergio. This will be a lot of fun, and I’ll have a lot of room for comic-con goodies like prints, postcards and other new stuff. I’m going to have two new LE prints this year for the cons, the first to debut at C2E2 in April.
Other random bits of news and flotsam:
- Website redesign- This is going but going slow. Probably won’t see the new site going up until sometime late this month. It will be very different, a lot more functional and less bloated… sort of like me when I lay off the chips and salsa at the beach.
- No DC MADness- Just found out there will NOT be any MAD variant covers for DC titles this year like we have done the last two years. That’s too bad, I really had fun doing those. Maybe we will do it again down the line sometime.
- Big Art Blowout #3- I’m going to have a big original art sale this month to help fund the website redesign. Bargain basement prices on the last of my Marlin Co. original poster inked pieces (now that they are 100% digital, there won’t be originals anymore), some big, traditional media paintings I did for promos and such long ago, and other random goodies. I’ll post about that soon.
So, what’s with the odd looking monkey I added in the lower center of the splash on the final? Well, the issue before was the “All Monkey Issue”, and I did the art on a piece showing the MAD staff as monkeys:
After the issue came out, the folks at MAD decided they should have added former art director Nadina Simon in that group. So they asked me to draw her in the 30 Crock splash. As a monkey. Yep.
Here are some more pages from that parody:
All images © 2008 DC Entertainment/MAD Magazine/E.C. Publications- All Rights Reserved
Q: Do you work with assistants and if not, why ?
A: For those who might not know this, some cartoonists have assistants that do certain tasks for them in order to get work done more quickly and, thus, be able to accept more work. These tasks can range from minor stuff like erasing the pencil lines from inked boards to major stuff like literally doing all the work (called “ghosting”). In most cases these assistants get paid but get no credit on the final work. This practice has been around since comics began, and in fact was very common in the early days of comics and comic strips—many future cartooning superstars got their starts as assistants for the superstars of that time. Old school comic book and daily comic strip artists sometimes had whole studios with many assistants doing many tasks (and if your name was Bob Kane, you just hired far more talented artists and writers to do all the work while you took all the credit and kept most of the money… but I digress). Comic book artists in particular may take on assistants as interns or paid helpers because stuff like backgrounds can be very simply roughed in by the principal artist but the tedious task of drawing all the windows and bricks and other details can be done by an assistant while the main artist goes on to other pages. Productivity means income in the comic book world. Comic strip artists may use uncredited inkers or colorists, and even gag writers, to keep up with their deadlines. Anyway, you get the idea.
I can’t say I’ve never used assistants… I’ve done it three times. Of the three times, two were utter disasters.
Disaster number one: I was working on a series of T-shirt designs for a golfing company that was coming out with a line of humorous products making fun of “hack” golfers. I was really under the gun with multiple projects and these golf guys were really demanding, so I asked one of my former caricature artists from my theme park operations (who shall remain nameless) to ink my designs for me and I’d do the color. When I got them back the inks were terrible and I had to redo them completely… saved no time and cost me money.
Disaster number two: In an effort to save some time on the most tedious part of any MAD job (I mean apart from having to actually read the script), inking the word boxes and panel borders with a tech pen, I tried my wife The Lovely Anna on the task. She did her best, but I spent more time fixing crooked lines, ink blobs, and bad corners, than I would have spent just doing it myself. She will just have to be content being smarter, better looking, and in general better at pretty much everything else in life, than I am and leave the art stuff to me.
The one time it worked out I hired a different theme park caricaturist named Andrew Blakeborough to do some inking on a whole lot of illustrations I was doing for a computer game from Hasbro called “Super Scattegories”. Andrew was a graduate of the Joe Kubert school, and did a great job with the inks saving me a lot of time and making some dough for himself. I colored the finals and the client loved them.
Other than those three times, I have drawn and inked every line and colored or painted every illustration, comic, or cartoon, with my name on it. Come to think of it, since I redid both the first two examples of using an assistant and was not credited at all for the Hasbro job, nothing with my name on it as sole illustrator contains any element I did not do myself.
Why? Well, the disasters not withstanding I am very particular about how anything with my name under it turns out, and as such just can’t turn over any aspect of it to another artist. That includes the backgrounds, flat colors and any other minor details. Knowing me even if my assistant does a decent job I’m going to be fixing and correcting things, so the only benefit to having and assistant, saving time, is largely negated. My hang up, but that’s just the way it is. I want things to turn out the way I want, and the only way that happens is if I do it.
If I ever worked on a long term project like a comic title or similar, I might have to get over those issues and take on an assistant, but for now I prefer doing it all myself. Plus I have kids in college and don’t want to part with any of the pay.
Thanks to Lucio Daniel 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!