On the Drawing Board

August 19th, 2006 | Posted in MAD Magazine

One of the two pieces I’ve got for MAD right now will be my first contribution to the “Fundalini Pages”. This is a new(er) feature in MAD that I really think is a nice addition to the magazine. It’s usually 3 pages right at the beginning, and contains gag strips, single panel jokes, list gags and other short content that together make a quick-hit kind of humor section. It’s great in that it caters somewhat to the short attention span of the age 10-16 section of the audience, and gets a lot of different artists and writers into the issue with contributions that are good ideas but might not have enough meat to them for a full feature. Anyway, my job for Fundalini is a 3 panel strip called “One Afternoon on the Pacific Coast Highway” starring Mel Gibson. Here’s a quick preliminary caricature I did of Mouthy Mel as a warm up:


Gibson has one of those faces I find hard to capture. He has an odd nose that looks small sometimes and big other times. Likewise his chin/jaw sometimes looks big and other times small. This quick one turned out fine but doing one decent caricature of someone is easy… it’s the drawing multiple times that becomes more challenging. You have to keep consistent with your relationships of features. When you do a single image, you base your decisions on basically one photo (although I will have many on hand to supplement my reference). When you work from a single photo, you can base your caricature on the relationship of features that the photo suggests. That may have a lot more to do with the angle the photo is taken at, or the expression given in the picture than it does with the true relationship of features that face has. For example, with Gibson, when he smiles his chin seems to get very long and adding mass to the chin would seem appropriate. However, try to apply that same exaggeration to him when he is not smiling and you will not get it to work. Yet, if I try and change his relationship of features between panels he becomes the Man with the Incredible Shrinking Chin. No cohesion or consistency between caricatures. That becomes distracting and interferes with the storytelling process.

Of course this little job is only a three panel strip, so I won’t overthink it. Maybe I’ll just go with a cartoony sort of caricature and make it a little more comic strip–like and less movie parody-like. With a title like “One Afternoon on the Pacific Coast Highway” you would think it would feature big, floppy feet and sound effects like “Slorp!” and “Ka-Bing!”.

As for Mel, he’ll be getting both barrels in this issue. There is a special section just for him. Personally I don’t know what to think about his little tirade, except the Italian proverb “In Vino Veritas” comes to mind: “in wine truth”.


  1. ppc says:

    How do you go about drawing the kind of caricatures like this one and the ones in MAD? Do you go about it the same way you would in a theme park where you start with the eyes, nose, etc and work your from the inside out (assuming that its the formula you use in the retail setting)?

  2. Tom says:

    Good question. If you don’t mind, I’ll save the long answer for next week’s Sunday Mailbag, but the short answer is no, I use a different approach in the studio mainly because I have the time to do that… no need to bang it out in 5 minutes.


Sketch o’the Week- Julie Newmar! #batman #batman66 #catwoman #julienewmar

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