Sunday Mailbag

June 24th, 2007 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: I have a question for your blog site about MAD artists. I have heard there are two kinds. Those younger artists who grew up reading MAD and the older ones who first drew for MAD (could not read it as a youngster as it did not exist). Can you comment on these types and do you think there is a difference between what a newer artist can contribute as a result of “growing up” on MAD?

A: Well, it’s like they say… there’s nothing like the original.

I think the early generation of MAD artists were no less than trail blazers and giants in the industry. They had nothing to go by but their raw creativity and talents. Nobody had really done anything quite like MAD before, so they had to invent it all. They all had their own influences, of course, but those influences came from unrelated sources and were hammered and melted together into their own idea of humorous, satirical cartoon art.

We later MAD artists benefited from their creating the standard and the template which became MAD as we know it. Satirical cartoon art and the MAD “feel” was well defined by the likes of Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Wally Wood, Don Martin, Sergio Aragones, etc. etc. We didn’t have to create that feel and sensibility of humor from scratch, it was already there and we learned it like one would learn a language. I’m not talking about mimicking the drawing styles of the classic MAD artists, I’m talking about absorbing the feel of the entire magazine… the unique MAD humor and veiwpoint. The self-deprecating yet smart-assed, cheeky, berate-the-obvious and slightly cynical bend of humor that saturates MAD.

Hopefully we bring some of ourselves to the table, and are not just pale imitations of the great ones before us. Using the language analogy, it’s possible to have your own voice even if you use the same language as another. I try and bring my own voice to my work. Taking the language I learned reading MAD and saying something of my own with it… that’s the best I can hope for.

Thanks to Nick Cirasella 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!

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