Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
The latest in MAD‘s series of “Mad’s Greatest Artists” featuring Dave Berg just became available for pre-order on Amazon. From the Amazon page’s description:
Included in this magnificent collection are some of the greatest works from Dave Berg—one of MAD Magazine’s most popular writers/artists. The material will be presented chronologically and interspersed throughout with rough sketches, a rare 1970 interview, an introduction and portrait of Berg by well-known American illustrator Drew Friedman, a “growing up with Dave Berg” essay by his daughter Nancy Berg, newly illustrated versions of classic Berg strips by several noteworthy cartoonists, and much more.
I am one of the cartoonists who did one of the “classic Berg strips”, which made me happy because when Dave passed away I had just joined the Usual Gang of Idiots, and as a result of being a newbie I was not asked to be one of the artists that took part in a special tribute to him in issue #427. In that issue a number of MAD artists illustrated what was his last script of “The Lighter Side of…”, which he never got a chance to illustrate. This time I got to do one. By the way I’ve seen Drew’s illustration of Dave as mentioned above, and in typical Friedman fashion it is fantastic.
These books are very well done. The only real problem with them is that so many of “MAD‘s Greatest Artists” worked for the magazine for so long and did so much work, that a “The Complete Work of…” is impossible with only a few exceptions. Dave worked for MAD for 46 years, first doing various gag artciels before starting “The Lighter Side of…” in 1961, which he did until his death in 2002. Just for perspective, “The Lighter Side of…” was already five years old when I was born in 1966.
Monday, April 29th, 2013
I occasionally get the question “What was the first piece you ever did for MAD“? which is not an easy one to answer. The full story is here, but the quick answer is a feature piece called “MAD‘s Cable TV Viewing Odds”, which I was assigned in June of 2000 but did not actually see print until MAD #406, June 2001. In between my doing that job and it seeing print I did several pieces for the MAD website and five jobs for the magazine including my first two TV/movie parodies.
I recently ran across a dusty DVD with some old jobs archived, including that first assignment for MAD. Here are some of the spots along with the gags as written by John Biederman:
- Chance of catching an actual music video: 38 to 1
- Chance of catching an event on The Real World that resembles something you’ve seen in the real world: 50 to 1
- Chance of Tom Green making Adam Sandler’s humor look highbrow: Even Money
- Chance of viewing an “on-the-scene” report in a case where an “on-the-scene” report was totally unnecessary: 2 to 1
- Chance of seeing coverage of a strife in some country you previously didn’t even know existed: 3 to 1
- Chance of catching a lengthy “update” that, in a nutshell, say’s that nothing’s changed: 5 to 1
- Chance of hearing a politician utter a bald-face lie within the first five minutes of viewing: 2 to 1
- Chance of seeing some guy in a bad suit pointing to a chart that only confuses the issue: 7 to 1
- Chance that a commentator’s monotone explanations during a break in the “action” will actually add something to your understanding of the proceedings: 25 to 1
- Chance of seeing a show or promo with one of the Rivers women clapping and braying like a seal: 3 to 1
- Chance of catching E! True Hollywood Story and mistaking it for VH1′s Behind the Music: 4 to 1
- Chance of being taken on a tour of a celebrity home of a celebrity you’ve never heard of: 1 to 1
- Chance of catching Emeril so worked up, you’d swear he’s about to hump that roast: 4 to 1
- Chance of hearing the virtues of some spice over-extolled: 6 to 1
- Chance of seeing a culinary profile of a restaurant in either New Jersey or South Dakota: 300 to 1
- Chance you’ll suddenly want to “do” an actress you previously only knew as a shriveled up old has-been: 3 to 1
- Chance of glamorized chain-smoking occurring on screen: 4 to 1
- Chance of catching a lplot-line recently ripped off by a “new” Hollywood film: 2 to 1
All artwork and text above © 2001 EC Comics/MAD Magazine, used with permission
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
In comic book shops, on the iPad, in subscribers mailboxes and on news stands everywhere today:
MAD # 521 (June 2013)
- Cover (Mark Fredrickson)
- The Fundalini Pages (Rick Tulka, Jeff Kruse, Anton Emdin, Bob Staake, Brian Gordon, Matt Lassen, John Kerschbaum, Tom Bunk, Darren Johnson, David DeGrand, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Paul Gilligan, Phil McAndrew)
- Game of Groans (Desmond Devlin, Hermann Mejia)
- A MAD Look at Baseball (Sergio Aragonés, Colors: Tom Luth)
- Planet TAD!!!!! (Tim Carvell)
- Overheard in Doggie Heaven (Jeff Kruse, Paul Coker)
- The All-American Fun N’ Gun Show (Frank Santopadre, Scott Bricher)
- The Darker Side of the Lighter Side of… (Dave Berg)
- Stuff-E-Vest Puff Jacket (Dick DeBartolo, Scott Bricher)
- Spy vs Spy (Peter Kuper)
- The Strip Club (John Kovaleski, Peet Tamburino, Brian Gordon, Kit Lively & Scott Nickel, John Katzenstein, Alex Cline, Jason Yungbluth, Christopher Baldwin)
- The MAD Vault: Scenes of Americana Yesterday and Today (George Woodbridge, Mike Snider)
- The MAD Guide to Man Boobs Volume 3 (Ryan Pagelow, Drew Friedman)
- 8 Questions to Soften the Blow for those on Death Row (John Caldwell)
- Casebook “Spyfail”: The Battle of the Bonds (Desmond Devlin, Tom Richmond)
- The Best of The Idiotical (various)
- Another Ridiculous MAD Fold-In (Al Jaffee)
- Back Cover: iPad Teensy-Weensy (Uncredited)
- Drawn Out Dramas (Sergio Aragonés, appear throughout the issue)
This issue I did the art for a parody done in a little different format than the usual MAD satire— it’s a send-up of all three Daniel Craig 007 films with the previous five Bonds doing the narration… and the snarky comments. I will post a sneak peek of the art as soon as I’m allowed to, they have some website doing an exclusive sneak peek of it sometime soon and I can’t post anything until that’s been released. Seeing as the issue is out, it’s not much of a sneak peek anymore, but an exclusive agreement is an exclusive agreement.
Well . . . What are you waiting for, clod?!? Go out and buy a fershlugginer copy already!
Monday, April 15th, 2013
This week’s Monday MADness is a peek behind the scenes of a past job I did for MAD… the entire feature’s pencil roughs for the parody of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1″ that appeared in MAD # 507 , written by Desmond Devlin. Clicky and to embiggen:
Here’s what the final splash looked like:
Monday, April 8th, 2013
Yesterday was the season premier of AMC’s “MAD MEN” (which I didn’t watch because I was working on a deadline), so this week’s “Monday MADness” is my art to MAD‘s parody of the show from MAD #508, written by Arnie Kogen (clicky on any to embiggen):
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Yesterday Entertainment Weekly released an exclusive sneak peek at the cover of MAD #521, check it out here. As you can see, MAD will be pillaging Game of Thrones, which I did not do the art for… and also exercising their license to kill on “James Bond”, which I DID do the art for! Is it a parody of Skyfall? A spoof of all 50 years of 007 movies? Gratuitous caricatures of half naked Bond girls? You’ll have to wait for the issue to hit the stands to find out! Fa Fa Fa!
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
I just found out that longtime MAD artist Bob Clarke passed away on Sunday from complications from pneumonia. He was 87.
I only met Bob once, at an NCS Reubens weekend in 2000 when it was held in New York City. He was pretty spry and sharp, and a gracious and humble guy. His work in MAD was always terrific, and while he didn’t get the kudos and attention of guys like Mort, Jack, Sergio, Don or Antonio, he was quietly one of the mainstays of the Usual Gang of Idiots and one of my favorites. Interestingly, he was one of several artists that were intrigued by, and came on board the magazine thanks to, an ad in the New York Times placed by
Bill Gaines Al Feldstein, which also netted Norman Mingo and Mort Drucker. Bob was an example of an illustrator that could do it all, and quite literally did it all. He seemed to be able to work in any style effortlessly, and that ability made him invaluable to MAD, as he could spoof almost any subject or genre from comic strips to children’s books to movie posters to advertising. He even did a number of Spy vs. Spys for the magazine. I always thought his work had an elegance to it that seemed to barely contain a very animated, zany style bubbling just under the surface. He did the sketch above for The Lovely Anna at the Reubens that year, and you can see his hands were not as steady as they were back in the day. Below is a picture of him drawing it. I wish I could have met him more often, and gotten to know him.
A true pro, a great talent… he’ll be missed but his legacy of work is one to be envied. RIP Mr. Clarke.
Thursday, March 21st, 2013
Pretty busy right now with several different projects:
- MAD book illustration- a super-secret and very fun little job for an upcoming major MAD book. This is still in the early stages but I’ll be working with a writer I’ve never worked with on it, and it will be an original piece for this new MAD book I can’t talk about.
- Workplace Poster- My usual monthly assignment.
- Advertising Illustration- This is a really time consuming but interesting project for the back of a film industry publication. It features caricatures of 60 plus people who work for this movie industry company, and it is a spoof of a famous movie poster. It’s also going to be gigantic—they want it big enough to be on the side of a bus shelter for alternate use. I’ll be able to post it after it’s published.
- MAD Cover!!! Ok, not for MAD itself but for an upcoming MAD special issue.
- WB Product “Alfred” Illustration- one more of these to do for T-shirts and merchandise… in review phase right now.
The drawing board is pretty MAD heavy right now with several side projects for them… and I am probably going to get assigned something for issue #522 any day now. Speaking of WB product stuff, I noticed they used one of my preliminary pencil sketches for the “Alfred Spy” illustration as a t-shirt design:
Here’s a couple of the preliminary sketches for that Alfred Leprechaun design I did… maybe they’ll end up as “sketch shirts”?:
Saturday, March 16th, 2013
Crave Onlines gives us an exclusive first look at the brilliant Sergio Aragonés‘ variant cover for Justice League #19. Love the MAD jammies with Spy Vs. Spy and Flip the bird. That’s the thirteenth and last one to be released!
If you are interested, I have created a page with all the variant cover promotional images on them here.
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
Back in January I got a call from MAD art director Sam Viviano about a side project they were working on—DC wanted to celebrate MAD‘s 60th anniversary with a series of variant covers by the Usual Gang of Idiots for thirteen of their titles. Knowing that I am a huge Batman fan, Sam suggested to the MAD editors that I get to do one of the Batman titles. I was assigned the cover of “Detective Comics”. Given my own choice, I would have picked Detective as well, as opposed to “Batman”. Detective Comics was the title I collected as a kid, and it being the title with the first appearance of Batman it will always be THE Batman title for me. I was thrilled with the assignment… it fulfills a long-time dream of mine to draw Batman for DC. Of course I’d me making fun of him, but if you can’t make fun of something you like then you should save up your money and buy yourself a sense of humor.
The gags on most (but not all) of these covers were written by the MAD staff, and I was sent a rough of the general gag… Alfred as Man-Bat flying off having just left a pile of guano on the hood of the Batmobile. Nothing says “MAD” more than a feces gag. Actually there was some discussion on this… we weren’t sure if the gag worked better with Alfred as Man-Bat or as a regular bat. So I did two roughs:
The second I didn’t spend much time on since as I did it I know it was not going to be the one, although I liked the angle a bit better and it allowed me to do more of the Gotham skyline and add the ” MAD zeppelin” gag in the moon. It’s funnier to have Man-Bat do the deed, as opposed to a real bat, as with Man-Bat you can assume he did it on purpose. Also there is more of a reason for Man-Bat to look like Alfred as opposed to a real bat. Anyway they went with the first sketch.
Not really much more to say about it after that. There was some discussion that the pile of crap I drew was TOO big, so that got dialed down a little (it’s funnier to make it a superhuman pile of crap), and I pointed out that I cheated the proportions of Batman vs. the batmobile so I could make Batman larger and still get the full batmobile in there. If anybody noticed that i could always claim I went to the Rob Liefeld school of proportion. I decided to do my line and color style since it was a comic book and most of them have traditional ink and color covers. Here are the inks and original final color (clicky to embiggen any):
Color-wise I tried to get close to the kind of colors you see in comics these days, muted and unsaturated. In hindsight I should have stuck with a more MAD-like palette, and Sam rightly pointed out to me they’d wanted more of the colorful look. So I did a little tweaking of the color for the final, based on Sam’s suggestions:
So that’s my adventure in Batman comics. I am pretty sure the art team for Detective is not worrying about their job security. Fun to do, I am looking forward to seeing the cover in print next month.