Sunday Mailbag

August 24th, 2008 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: Upon viewing the Phelps drawing it prompts the question, how much of your style is based on comic book drawing?  I kind of get the impression that what sets your work apart from others is that you draw caricatures the way a Marvel or DC artist would.

A: In my opinion not much of my style of drawing or caricature is based on comic book work, and none of it is intentionally.

My main style of caricature was developed from doing live caricature work at theme parks, and my experience with comic book style illustration is rather limited. It’s hard to pin down where a style comes from. You see influences in it, but essentially anyone’s style is just an extension of how they think, see and interpret their environment. I think your observations may be coming from my treatment of the figure… particularly the athlete or muscular type forms. “Comic book anatomy” has a certain look to it. In exaggerating the human form it often looks comic bookish, as comics artists also exaggerate to give their more-than-human characters greater dynamics and visual energy. Certainly I exaggerate the figure as much as the faces when I can… the Phelps drawing is a perfect example of that.

I never did comic book work in the “cape-and-tights” pure sense. The “Married… with Children” and “Coneheads” issues I did were much more MAD Magazine than mainstream comic-like. Of course there is a large amount of crossover there, particularly in the storytelling and layout end of things. Humorous comics may not be given the same kind of attention that superhero comics get, but they have always been a part of the comics world, and often a large part of it. Some of the greatest comic book artists were equally as adept at drawing funny as they were are drawing dramatic.

When I was a kid I drew my own comics during every spare minute I could find. I had hundreds of pages of superhero and sci-fi stories I’d written and drawn on everything from notebooks to old mimeograph paper to computer print log sheets. I devoured comics like Batman, Star Wars, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel… you name it. You can certainly trace whatever storytelling/layout skills I have back to a love of comic books. Perhaps you see that glimmering through somehow.

Thanks to Mark Grant 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! I’m running low!


  1. I’ve always felt that your style of cartooning was Mad Magazine inspired. I see a lot of Mort Drucker’s style in your work. Drucker was a huge inspiration to me when I was a young Mad Mag fan and aspiring cartoonist. I look at your work and it’s almost like Drucker to the n-th degree.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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