Mad Art : A Visual Celebration of the Art of Mad Magazine and the Idiots Who Create It Paperback – November 1, 2002
by Mark Evanier (Author)
The year 2002 marks the 50th anniversary of MAD Magazine, America’s longest-running periodical of humor and satire. Throughout its long history, one of the most immediate, defining, and influential aspects of MAD has been its unique art; the magazine is a treasury of illustrated humor. MAD Art is a hilarious look at five decades of America’s premiere showcase for parody, satire, and wit. All of MAD’s “Usual Gang of Idiots” are represented, beginning with Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder and continuing on through more recent Idiots like Richard Williams and Hermann Mejia. MAD fans will find fascinating one-on-one discussions with veteran MAD artists about their favorite pieces, stylistic influences, and the references they used in creating their art. Also included are quotes from artists about each other’s work, like Sam Viviano’s comments on Mort Drucker, Tom Bunk’s conversation about Basil Wolverton, and many more. MAD’s writers are essential to its success-and readers will discover captivating personal interviews with the writers who helped create the side-splitting text accompanying the illustrations. There is also a section on the talented writer/artists, such as Al Jaffee, John Caldwell, and Sergio AragonŽs, who write as well as illustrate their own material. Finally, this authorized guide through MAD history includes a treasury of MAD’s infamous advertising parodies; samples of classic cover and interior art; and dozens of rare and never-before-seen preliminary sketches, photos, and much more. The quintessential reference for every devoted MAD fanatic!
From Publishers Weekly
About the shape and weight of a telephone directory, this book has room enough to live up to its subtitle-and more. It begins with legendary cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman and his creation of Mad as a humor comic book in 1952 and continues to the present, artist by artist. Early artists tend to get more space because they helped create the magazine’s style and also because some of them have continued to contribute drawings for decades. Jack Davis and Mort Drucker, for example, are each allotted eight pages, enough for an irreverent but affectionate biographical write-up and a variety of art samples. Lesser, later artists get a paragraph and one panel. Along the way, Evanier gives a lot of background information about the comics industry and about the process by which Mad has been produced. In short, this is a book for people who are curious about individual artists, the history of Mad magazine or comics as a business. Mad’s success for half a century shows it has mastered the knack of laughing with its targets while laughing at them. Indeed, many of the celebrities the magazine has skewered over the years have felt flattered to find themselves the subjects of Mad caricatures. It helps that so much of the magazine focuses on relatively nonthreatening subjects, such as popular culture and suburbia. The only political commentary cutting enough to draw blood is on Ronald Reagan. But clearly the Mad staff knows what it’s doing and has been doing it extremely well.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Mad magazine has been corrupting young minds, in a good way, for half a century. As befits the institution it has become, it receives the coffee-table-book treatment with comics historian Evanier’s showcase of the artists who have been Mad mainstays over the years. Evanier profiles the unusual members of “the usual gang of idiots” (as the masthead has long called them), of whom the most prominent include cartoonists Jack Davis and Will Elder, with Mad from the beginning; such second-generation stars as master caricaturist Mort Drucker and “Mad’s maddest artist,” Don Martin, whose baggy-faced as well as -pantsed style virtually defined Mad during its heyday; and talented relative newcomers Drew Friedman and Peter Kuper. Each profile accompanies well-chosen samplings of the artist’s work, and Evanier continues his sprightly, informative commentary in additional chapters on Mad’s early days, the gestation of a Mad feature, and other matters. A nostalgic treat for boomers as well as a revealing look at Mad today. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill; First Edition edition (January 30, 2003)
Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.3 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
By Robin on July 4, 2003
Take the arty `usual gang of idiots’ out of the confines of the magazine and show generous helpings of their work in the pages of a chunky oversize paperback and you realise what a rich vein of artistic talent the magazine has been working with, right from the first issue too.Mark Evanier presents sixty-eight of these creative folk. He writes about them in a breezy style mixed in with examples of their work. You can find out how your favorites started at Mad and a lot of interesting background about the magazine. My faves are Jack Davis and Wally Wood, besides being very funny both are superb draughtsmen, Kelly Freas for his brilliant spoof ad paintings, his famous `Great Moments in Medicine: presenting the bill’ is included in color, Paul Coker and Bob Clarke. Mad cover artist Richard Williams is special too, he and Norman Mingo have done the most covers over the years. Williams painted the cover to `Mad Art’ (click on the cover above to see a larger version) based on a Norman Rockwell painting for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, February 13, 1960.
If you are a Mad fan you’ll enjoy `Mad Art’ but bear in mind that it is a showcase for the artists and of the hundreds of pictures included very few are of complete articles. There are thirty pages in color and I would have liked to see more, however Mad covers (issue 1 thru 400) are all in color in `Mad Cover to Cover’ by Frank Jacobs, a handy companion book to
Mad Art’. I think both books are excellent.