Last Tuesday MAD released the latest in their “MAD’s Greatest Artist’s” series- Dave Berg: Five Decades of The Lighter Side Of…¬¨‚Ä†As the title suggests it’s a collection of the best of Dave Berg featuring not only hundreds of examples of the best of “The Lighter Side of…” organized by decade, but also early work that is amazingly diverse in style and execution, book covers, some features he did the writing only on from the brief MAD Kids spinoff, some rare pencil roughs, gag photo ads he appeared in, lots of rare pictures and other fun stuff. It also features a fabulous foreword and portrait of Berg by the incomparable Drew Friedman, excerpts from an interview published in a 1970 issue of Jud Hurd‘s Cartoonist PROfiles, and an essay by his daughter Nancy about growing up in the MAD Berg household.
When Berg died in 2002 he had a number of “The Lighter Side of…” gags in the works for the next issue, written but unfinished. MAD assigned these to eighteen different MAD artists to complete and published them as a tribute to Dave. These included work by Jack Davis (his last published MAD work), Mort Drucker, Angelo Torres, Sergio Aragon?¬©s, George Woodbridge, Sam Viviano… a long list of great artists who were happy to pay tribute to a fellow member of the Usual Gang of Idiots who was one of the backbones of the magazine. That tribute from MAD #427 is also included in this book.
Sadly, being a very new artist there when this all took place (I had only been with MAD for a little over a year at the time) I was not one of the artists invited to do a tribute. Since that issue many other new Idiots have joined the MAD family, and so the editors took 14 classic Berg strips from over the years and assigned them to some of “the new guys (and gals)” as part of a never-before-seen feature in the book. This time I made the cut. In fact, I was given a choice of which one I wanted. I was tempted to do a “The Office” gag but could not resist doing a classic “Doctors” gag featuring Roger Kaputnik (aka Berg himself). My piece:
I never got to meet Dave Berg. He didn’t make it to any of the MAD holiday parties (sadly long a thing of the past now) I was able to attend in my early days of drawing for the magazine, which was the place I was able to meet many MAD legends over dry turkey and glasses of scotch. Nevertheless, I was honored to be able to pay a small tribute to a man who made a lot of people smile for over half a century. This book is another home run in the “MAD‘s Greatest Artists” series. Despite my bookshelves groaning under the weight of these massive tomes, they are welcome and well-thumbed additions to the library.
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