Sunday Mailbag

September 2nd, 2012 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: Hi Tom, I enjoy your illustrations in Mad Magazine.  I was wanting to get a Sergio Aragones autograph.  How can I get one?

A: Everybody want’s Sergio’s autograph! Or Mort Drucker‘s, or Sam Viviano‘s, or…

It’s common courtesy among professionals not to give out their personal contact info, including mailing addresses. However MAD is very good at forwarding correspondence to individual artists. I sometimes get big envelopes from MAD which contains an unopened envelope or package from someone who wanted me to autograph something or to just write me a note.

What is appropriate to send? That’s a good additional question as what you send or ask for makes a difference as to whether you get the response you are looking for. Every MAD artist has their own guidelines for this sort of thing, but there are some that are basically universal in terms of what is both appropriate and what get’s responded to quicker or in the manner the sender wants.

  • Send a self addressed and stamped envelope– the one universal thing that should be included is a self-addressed envelope with enough postage on it for return mailing. That way all we have to do is sign whatever you send, then seal it in the SASE and put it in the mail.
  • Better to send a copy of MAD to get signed than a blank card- I know in Sergio’s particular case, he will only sign printed things like copies of MAD, Groo, books, or anything published he has work in. He is happy to sign these items for free because that supports the publishers and the people who pay him to produce the work. That’s a smart way to do it, and something I also basically adhere to. If you send me an actual copy of MAD or anything I have done work in, I guarantee I will sign it and send it back to you immediately. I’ll also sign a blank card or some printed piece of my art, but I would probably not do that immediately. I figure if someone invests the money to buy a copy of the magazine for a signature, they deserve an immediate response.
  • Add a real, personal note You would not believe how many autograph hounds are out there who only want to get as many autographs as they can, and basically don’t even know your work. I get generic letters a lot that clearly are used for anybody who does comic work, and these people aren’t fans. I do not respond to those, even if they have a self-addressed and stamped envelope. That’s like getting a “fan” letter that starts out “Dear Tim Richards”. If you take the time to write a note that is obviously personalized, that means a lot and will usually get a personal response. I know I always answer anyone that sends me a genuine letter like that.
  • Ask for a drawing at your own risk– It’s asking a lot when you request a sketch from the artist. I know it doesn’t seem like much to just ask for a doodle, but artists tend to be demanding of themselves and have a hard time just banging out some really quick sketch. They’ll feel the need to spend 10 or 15 minutes drawing something out, and that’s quite a bit of time when you think about it. Many won’t do it at all, and some will only if you catch them at a rare free moment. Personally I rarely do them unless they are accompanied by a really genuine note that makes it obvious I am not being asked for one to add to an already gigantic collection of sketches from cartoonists and comic book artists. Even if the artists you request it from will do a sketch, that’s the most likely thing to get tossed aside for when there is some free time, and then it can be forgotten or not gotten to for some time. I have several in a box in my studio and heaven only knows when I’ll get to them.

You can send any such requests directly to the MAD offices addressed to the Usual Idiot you want to send it to like this:

C/O MAD Magazine
1700 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10019

One caveat- I know they forward work to more current UGOI, but I am not sure if a letter to someone like Jack Davis, Bob Clarke or other UGOI that haven’t worked for the magazine in a long time would get forwarded.

Thanks to D Ruzicka¬¨‚Ć for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar,¬¨‚Će-mail me¬¨‚Ćand I’ll try and answer it here!



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