Sunday Mailbag

January 6th, 2013 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: Regarding submitting work to MAD, I read your blog post about “breaking into MAD”, but the links to the submission guidelines are dead ends. Considering that there’s no submission section on the website, is it fine to mail the submissions to the address you mentioned under the FAQs section on your blog? Or MAD is not accepting submissions anymore? I am not a caricature artist (I’m more of a vampire caricaturist, I so suck at it). But, I can do cartoons and I can also do funny realistic portraits featuring Neuman in different forms, like those typical MAD covers. However, I read on the website that the covers are done only by the Usual Gang of Idiots. So, my questions is, in a submission, should I add those cover-esque artwork, or to put it this way…what should I add in the submission package?

A: When MAD redid their website a year or so back, they eliminated that submissions guideline page. Sorry about that dead link. I do not believe they have an updated version of it to link to, but MAD is always interested in new artists and work, so yes submissions are still accepted. Other than the link, that blog post you refer to still has very pertinent information about what to send and what not to send. Here’s a short version of some key points I think are important (remember, I don’t have anything to do with reviewing submissions to MAD . . . any info here is strictly my opinion on what I THINK they are interested in seeing):

  • Submit unique work– They have never been interested in clones of their famous artists like Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, etc. and famously refuse to use artist’s whose work is too similar to those recognizable styles. They like fresh styles that can capture the MAD brand of humor.
  • Don’t do your take on classic features– They don’t want to see your version of “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”, “Horrifying Cliches”, etc. Send something original.
  • Demonstrate your storytelling- Not comic panels per se, but telling a story with an image. That’s what MAD is really looking for. There are many artists capable of doing a really nice drawing (especially caricatures), but does your drawing tell a story? Is it funny in and of itself? Does it convey a gag well?
  • Do writer/artist concepts for recurring featuresMAD is always looking for the next “Monroe” or other feature concept. If you can do that sort of thing, pitch something to them.
  • Submit finished work– Don’t send sketchbook pages. They want to see your print-ready work.

With regard to your sending “cover-esque” art . . . by all means. However, some types of work are harder to get than others. Cover work is especially hard. They only have 6 overs a year, and Mark Fredrickson does most of them. In order to get considered for a cover job, Mark would need to be unavailable to do it, and then a long list of main artists like Mort Drucker or Richard Williams would have to pass before they considered anyone completely new. An artist looking to get into MAD would have a much better chance by submitting either full realized feature concepts, humorous spot illustrations, or short-narrative work. Most new artists either get started in the “Fundalini Pages” or “The Strip Club”. In fact, “The Strip Club” is probably the best place to “break in” to MAD. You can submit concepts from a daily strip format all the way to a full page format or anything in between. Very versatile, and they are always looking for unique, new stuff for that feature. From there it’s possible to gradually work your way into longer features and more steady work. Aussie artist Anton Emdin is a good example… he started out doing Fundalini spots, then he did some full page features and a MAD 20 piece, and this summer he did the “Twilight” movie series parody.

And, yes, good old-fashioned mailing is the best way to send them work. Email is too easy, and taking the time to put together a mail package shows effort and would likely get a better look. I know I would spend more time looking at a packet someone obviously spent time assembling and sending out, rather than some PDF attached to a 20 second email. Of course, I don’t review any art for MAD… thank God. Here’s the address:

MAD Magazine
c/o Sam Viviano, Art Director
1700 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Good luck!

Thanks to Rupam 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!


  1. Lee Fortuna says:

    I would like to comment a little on Rupam’s statement regarding the Mad covers only done by the “Usual Gang Of Idiots”. One of the reasons I no longer buy Mad Magazine is due to the fact that Mad DOES NOT use the UGOI for they’re covers! They use only ONE artist for Every cover for years! If it was true that Mad uses they’re stable of GREAT artist to do the Mad covers, then we would be getting a rapid fire of great covers from all the UGOI, like Tom Richmond! So sorry Rupam for correcting your wonderful mailbag question but this is one HUGE flaw that Mad Magazine continues to publish! Sorry Sam & John but you seriously strayed from the 60 years of great cover selections that Mr. Bill Gaines worked so hard to achieved.

    • Tom says:

      Lee- I know you have made several comments in the past promoting me for consideration for cover work, and I really appreciate that. I would love to do a MAD cover someday, but that day is a log way off if it ever comes. MAD’s approach to covers, with the exception of the occasional special cover like the recent “Angry Birds” or cartoon characters like the Simpsons, has always been to use realistic-style art and painting. The only other exception has been the occasional cover by one of their long-time and most recognizable interior illustrators like Davis, Drucker, or Viviano. Realistic painting of odd-ball scenes has always been the main focus. Norman Mingo was the longest running, and then there was Frank Kelly Freas, Richard Williams, Roberto Parada, and C.F. Payne. Now Mark Fredrickson fills that bill. My work does not. Someday the right subject matter will come along and I’ll get a chance to do a cover. I don’t ask or pester the staff about it, it will happen when it happens.

      I do not understand your admonition of MAD for “not using the UGOI” for covers, or for suggesting what they are doing using one artist for most covers is different than what MAD’s done in the past. First, having a regular cover artist makes that artist a UGOI. If they constantly brought in other artists for most covers, I could see your point. If you don’t like Mark’s work (as a fan, I can’t comprehend that, but everyone has different tastes) then I respect your opinion, but Mark is definitely a UGOI of the first order.

      Second, MAD (at least since it became a magazine) has ALWAYS had the majority of their covers done by a single artist for long stretches, and one that does not do anything BUT covers. See list in first paragraph. They are following in the same tradition Bill Gaines did.

      • Lee Fortuna says:

        Tom I understand that Mark F. is an incredible artist and belongs in the UGOI. But given this horrible book,magazine,newspaper subscription climate, changing things up a little could only help! True Mad has put one artist in charge of covers for “long stretches” & I could be wrong but Mark F. has had the cover shot a LONG time! I recently seen an old Mad cover of the great Don Martin’s work & honestly was a refreshing sight! Yes, that simple cartoony Martin style really caught my eye. All I’m saying Tom is with the low subscription issue I’m sure Mad & other mags are having, they have to try something new & different. Give the other UGOI a shot, hey like my Italian Mom use to say, “Ya never never know”!

  2. David Lubin says:

    I can’t believe the comment that Lee doesn’t buy MAD anymore because of the cover. Doesn’t he (assuming a “he”) READ MAD, rather than just looking at the cover. The story lines, satire, and overall attraction of MAD is more, now than ever, the timeliness of what’s going on around us and how “MAD” everything really is. It used to be months and months, in the past, before MAD could relate to current events. That’s so much different now. C’mon, Lee, Tom’s being kind, lighten up on the cover issue.
    Tom, what if you want to submit text for acceptance? Do you just do that and MAD will evaluate it and if they like it, accept it and then provide the artwork? I have always wanted to submit text, but not sure if sketch work has to be with it.

    • Tom says:

      Not sure how pitching cover concepts work. I know the editors spend a lot of time coming up with, tweaking, and producing covers.

  3. David Lubin says:

    Tom, actually, didn’t mean a cover concept, meant more of a concept for an article submission. How does one go about that?

    • Tom says:

      I’m pretty sure they would want an article concept to have a fairly full script, as opposed to just a list of ideas. You would not need art to accompany it.


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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