I just found out that longtime MAD artist Bob Clarke passed away on Sunday from complications from pneumonia. He was 87.
I only met Bob once, at an NCS Reubens weekend in 2000 when it was held in New York City. He was pretty spry and sharp, and a gracious and humble guy. His work in MAD was always terrific, and while he didn’t get the kudos and attention of guys like Mort, Jack, Sergio, Don or Antonio, he was quietly one of the mainstays of the Usual Gang of Idiots and one of my favorites. Interestingly, he was one of several artists that were intrigued by, and came on board the magazine thanks to, an ad in the New York Times placed by
Bill Gaines Al Feldstein, which also netted Norman Mingo and Mort Drucker. Bob was an example of an illustrator that could do it all, and quite literally did it all. He seemed to be able to work in any style effortlessly, and that ability made him invaluable to MAD, as he could spoof almost any subject or genre from comic strips to children’s books to movie posters to advertising. He even did a number of Spy vs. Spys for the magazine. I always thought his work had an elegance to it that seemed to barely contain a very animated, zany style bubbling just under the surface. He did the sketch above for The Lovely Anna at the Reubens that year, and you can see his hands were not as steady as they were back in the day. Below is a picture of him drawing it. I wish I could have met him more often, and gotten to know him.
A true pro, a great talent… he’ll be missed but his legacy of work is one to be envied. RIP Mr. Clarke.
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