The Mysterious MAD Book Project Revealed!

June 16th, 2009 | Posted in MAD Magazine

A lot of people ask me what MAD is planning on doing now that they are only publishing 4 times a year.

Hopefully, here’s one answer. New, original content MAD books.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s MAD published a lot of paperback books, many of which were the work of individual artist and writers like Don Martin, Sergio Aragon?¬©s, Al Jaffee, etc. These were also mostly original content, not reprints from the magazine. For most of the last two decades, MAD‘s book offerings have been reprinted classic MAD material packaged into themed collections like “MAD About the 60’s” or “MAD about Superheroes”.

This book, “Bo Confidential: The Secret Files of America’s First Dog” which I illustrated, represents the first book of original (non reprinted) content from MAD in a long, long time. This is one of the things MAD is planning on doing in between producing their (sadly) now only quarterly magazine publication.

Bo Confidential!
Click for a closer look!

Art/spreads from BO CONFIDENTIAL: THE SECRET FILES OF AMERICA’S FIRST DOG published by Running Press. On sale everywhere in August 2009. ¬¨¬©2009 EC Publications, all rights reserved.

The story behind this book is a short but intense one.

I got a call from my friend, mentor and a guy who owes me $10.00, MAD art director Sam Viviano at the very end of April to say they had a book project they wanted me to do the art for. The working title was “Bo Obama: The First 100 Days”. It was a book about the Obama’s new Portuguese Water Dog and his introduction into the White House, filled with gags about politics, the Obamas in general and of course, dog poop. It was going to be 96 pages and fully illustrated with a mixture of primarily two page spreads along with color single pages, color spots and some smaller monochrome spots. There was a catch, though (there always is). They wanted the art completed in just over three weeks.

Yes, you read that right. Three weeks. The publication date was to be the end of July.

I’m not entirely sure why the short deadline. Some say it was because there is a bunch of Obama family and Bo books coming out this summer and getting the book into that mix would get it placed on end cap and table displays in the big bookstores. Another theory is that there was a huge publisher’s book fair event right after Memorial Day, and having the book completed by then would allow the publisher to promote it fully at said fair. I don’t know… I just draw the funny pictures. Regardless, I got the final book script/layout on May 1st and had until May 26th to get the book completely illustrated. Worse yet, I had plans to go to the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Awards in L.A. on May 22nd-26th, so essentially I had 22 days to get it all done.

Bo Confidential!
Click for a closer look!

I did it in 21 days. 96 pages including 25 full color two page spreads, 21 full color single page/large spot illustrations and 13 monochrome pages. The remaining pages had other grpahics.

Whew. I’ve done a lot of tough jobs in my time, but this one really did nearly break me. I got about 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night for three weeks straight, with only the occasional night of more due to sheer necessity. I had to place everything else on hold including canceling trips to both my out-of-state theme parks. I finished and FTP’d the last page at about 4 a.m. on May 22nd, and then got on the plane to L.A. 5 hours later. It was a very tired Tom who attended the NCS Reubens this year.

Be that as it may, the book is “in the can” as they say in the movie biz (I don’t know what they say in the book biz) and my first illustrated book will be in bookstores late next month. It’s also a hardcover, not a paperback, and is only $9.95. You can preorder it via I am not sure why I am not listed as the illustrator on the book in the Amazon listing… I was looking forward to having my name listed as a book illustrator officially in Amazon, but I guess you can’t have it all. Pre Order one today!


  1. Chip says:

    Awesome work Tom! Can’t believe you did such phenomenal art on a tight and bare minimal sleep schedule.
    Maybe you’ll get some sort of recognition from President Obama as I’m sure his kids will be reading this new book about their dog.
    Congratulations again!
    BTW-must be pretty weird you Minnesotans FINALLY got your US Senator elected in SNL alumnus Al Franken.

    • Tom says:

      Franken is still not the senator. Minnesota law will not allow the state government to issue a election certificate until all legal challenges are resolved. Currently the Minnesot Supreme Court has heard and is considering Colemen’s appeal of the recount results. They will rule on the appeal at some point (hopefully soon). If he loses that, Coleman could appeal all the was to the U.S. Supreme Court. It may be some time before MN has it’s full two senators in the US Senate. Coleman keeps looking more and more the sore loser in this thing and keeps making Franken, a pretty shakey candidate in the first place IMO, look better and better. Overall a pathetic situation.

  2. Bill says:

    Congrats Tom!

    That job really has to go down in the “Insane Deadline Hall of Fame”!

  3. Nate says:

    That’s fantastic, Tom! How the #$@% did you do that?! My gosh. I did the math, and that’s pretty phenomenal. Anyhow – looking forward to getting a copy. I’m glad MAD is going in this direction with things.

  4. Tom Nguyen says:

    congrats Tom! Perhaps that will finally inspire me to finish my damn book already LOL You deserve it buddy.

  5. Brad says:

    wow! that is impressive. it only makes you stronger! haha!

  6. Wow, that’s very impressive!!! Hope you were able to charge a rush fee. 🙂

  7. Andreas Ulanowsky says:

    Thanks for the head’s up on the new book, Tom! This definately makes up for the fact that you aren’t publishing Mad so often! I’m delighted that other projects will keep y0ou busy. I’ve seen the interviews of the artists and writers of Daredevil of another so called publisher, which I heard was marvelous on the DVD. So, I’m aware of the hared work you artists do, and t??t’s noyt that easy, so kudos to you all! By the way, I thought I might wtite a big THANK YOu for including some rare appearences of long time artists for Mad number 500! It’s always a pleasure to see Mort, harry and Rickard do stheir art for Mad. Mark Fredrickson did a nice cover, too, Thankffully their wasn’t any political issue involved this time around, unlike #300….

    I hope you and the gang have a pleasant summer ahead and I hope those interns know what they’re getting themselves into in New York!

    Regards from Sweden!

    Andreas Ulanowsky

  8. Doug says:

    Very impressive.
    Great job as usual!

  9. Alex H. says:

    That is amazing. I thought only us crazy kids still did three-week-all-nighter-benders. 😉 Good work! 😀

  10. Mark Engblom says:

    “Maybe you‚Äö√Ñ√¥ll get some sort of recognition from President Obama as I‚Äö√Ñ√¥m sure his kids will be reading this new book about their dog.”

    It doesn’t appear to be aimed at the kiddies, considering Bo called Barney Frank a “fat load” on one of the spreads. Very funny stuff….but probably not something Obama will be reading to the girls. Unless the fat load was Rush Limbaugh, that is.

    • Tom says:

      Likely not. MAD also left the two young girls out of it. They are mentioned once but do not appear.

  11. Wow, absolutely incredible Tom. What an accomplishment! Talk about separating the men from the boys. I hope you had a little time to rest up after the Reubens (yeah, right!). I can’t imagine what this felt like to be done. Way to go!

  12. As always, fantastic work Tom!

    The fact that you were able to complete such a demanding job under such a tight deadline speaks volumes about what a pro you are. I got light headed just reading about it.

    All of the book examples are stellar, but I especially like the piece about Bo and all the other former presidents’ dogs. Nice feel and color.

  13. Ernie Kwiat says:

    Great work! I smell an article about how to caricature animals!

  14. julio cesar Naranjo says:

    Hi Tom that was a tremendous odissey im speachless, its really hard work and that inspired me to keep drawing and keep learning. i want to buy a copy when its done

  15. Joe Groshek says:

    Hi Tom, Congratulations on your book, and absolutely amazing accomplishment getting that much artwork done in the short time available. In Oct. 2008 I did 28-pages in 4-weeks on Donald Driver’s Quickie makes the team Children’s book, also getting about 2-3 hrs of sleep a night, and 4 complete redo’s inbetween, besides worrking 50-hours a week at my day job, did the editing, got the artwork to the publisher and the book was out at Barnes and Noble 3-days before Thanksgiving, and I thought that was intense….I have nothing on you. Well done! I will definitely be purchasing a copy of your book, not just because being a MAD Collector, but to show my appreciation to you as a fellow Illustrator. Regards, -Joe Groshek-


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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