Inside MAD Inside Stuff!

October 29th, 2013 | Posted in MAD Magazine

Now that the official release date is here for the book Inside MAD, I can finally share the original piece I did for the book, and my choice for all-time favorite MAD article.

First, the original piece:

The introduction of the book is written by the very successful comedy film writer, director and producer Judd Apatow. In his intro, he points out that MAD never has done a spoof of any of his movies or TV shows. So, thanks to the efforts of MAD scribe Desmond Devlin and TV/Film writer Paul Rust, we did a special two-pager entitled “A MAD Look Behind the Scenes at Apatow Studios”, in which I did about 50 or so caricatures of stars from Judd’s different films and TV shows. Here’s a look at the art:

Clicky to embiggen…

I worked directly with Judd on this, since he wanted to give me some ideas as to background gags and some stuff he wanted to see in it. He was a lot of fun to collaborate with, even though I could not convince him to tell his wife Leslie Mann to text me some scantily-clad selfies. You can actually see the full piece with text on the sneak peek at the book’s Amazon order page (and have been able to for months. but no one noticed…).

Now, for my choice for favorite article… as I said way back when I posted about the book’s announcement, my choice will probably surprise you as it is NOT a TV or movie parody. Of course I have a lot of favorites and many of them are TV and movie parodies, but many of those have been reprinted so many times I wouldn’t have wanted to pick one of those. Fortunately my absolute, hands-down, all-time favorite hasn’t been reprinted much… in fact I can think of only one MAD book where it appeared (a somewhat obscure one called MAD about Comic Strips), so it was an easy choice all around. Anyway, this is it:

“The MAD Comic Opera”- MAD# 56, July 1960. Written by Frank Jacobs, art by Wally Wood

Here’s (in part) what I wrote about the piece:

I’ve always thought MAD was at its best when it took something and turned it completely on its head. Taking the realistic and serious and making it absurd and silly is something they have always done well, but occasionally they will take the absurd and silly, and make it look even more absurd and silly by putting it in a more realistic world. Writer Frank Jacobs and artist Wally Wood did just that in “The Mad Comic Opera” in MAD #56. Frank’s clever script included many of his “sung to the tune of…” song parodies, still a relatively new thing then and soon to be his iconic signature. Wally Wood’s art is what really drives this piece, however. He seamlessly combines the look of simple comic strip characters into a gritty and realistic style with deep shadows and atmosphere galore. How he accomplished this so completely is mind-boggling. My favorite panel is the one where Dagwood’s shadow is broken up by his recently acquired bullet holes. Perfect art for a great story and concept.

Here is the opening page and my favorite page from the story, that of Dagwood Bumstead’s death scene. You will notice that, unlike when MAD usually does parodies of copyrighted properties, the characters here are using their “real” names, i.e. Dick Tracy, Tarzan, etc. That’s because the satire is in putting the characters themselves in a realistic world.

Mad Comic Opera 1
Clicky to embiggen…

Mad Comic Opera 2
Clicky to embiggen…


  1. Jon says:

    Fantastic piece – but you forgot Sarah Marshall

  2. You maniac you says:

    I’m counting 58 caricatures… or 59 if you count ice-headed James Franco… or 60 if you count Kermit the Frog.

  3. This is an awesome artwork. Did you draw all the characters seperately or were they drawn as one artwork.?
    I’m currently studying your book “the Mad art of caricature” and I must compliment you! Not only is the art stunning but the way the words just sketch a perfect understanding of what you are trying to say, a true gem!

    • Tom says:

      Thank you, glad you like the book. When I do a crowd scene like this, I draw it as one piece, not as individual caricatures.

  4. Adam Cooke says:

    That artwork, and the accompanying dialogue, is absolutely amazing and fills a long-running gap in MAD’s modern movie mockery. However, as a longtime Muppet devotee, I still haven’t decided whether your placement of Kermit the Frog and Jason Segel is brilliant or sacrilege. I’ll get back to you.


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

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: