Here’s a really nice video featuring Sergio’s work. I met Sergio when I was in high school. He was married to a teacher at my school and he came in and talked with us. I knew his work well and was delighted to see him. Years later at the Book Festival in LA I saw him signing books at a booth and told him about it and he laughed. When I told him I was an artist too and my work tended to be comical he laughed harder.
Sergio Aragonés Domenech (born 6 September 1937, Sant Mateu, Castellón, Spain) is a cartoonist and writer best known for his contributions to Mad Magazine and creator of the comic book Groo the Wanderer.
Among his peers and fans, Aragonés is widely regarded as “the world’s fastest cartoonist.”The Comics Journal has described Aragonés as “one of the most prolific and brilliant cartoonists of his generation. Mad editor Al Feldstein said, “He could have drawn the whole magazine if we’d let him.”
According to the artist, he arrived in New York in 1962 with nothing but 20 dollars and his portfolio of drawings. After working odd jobs around the city, Aragonés went to Mad’s offices in Madison Avenue hoping to sell some of his cartoons. “I didn’t think I had anything that belonged in Mad, said Aragonés. “I didn’t have any satire. I didn’t have any articles. But everybody was telling me, ‘Oh, you should go to Mad.”
Since his knowledge of English wasn’t very extensive, he asked for the only Mad artist he knew of that spoke Spanish, Cuban-born artist Antonio Prohías, creator of the comic Spy vs. Spy. Aragonés hoped Prohías could serve as a interpreter between him and the Mad editors. According to Aragonés, this proved to be a mistake, since Prohías knew even less English than he. Prohías did receive Aragonés very enthusiastically and, with difficulty, introduced the young artist to the Mad editors as his “Sergio, my brother from Mexico,” temporarily leading to even further confusion, as the Mad editors thought he was “Sergio Prohías.” Mad editor Al Feldstein and publisher Bill Gaines liked what they saw, and Aragonés became a contributor to the magazine in 1963. His first sale was an assortment of astronaut cartoons which the editors arranged into a themed article. As of the 500th issue in 2009, Aragonés’ work had appeared in 424 issues of Mad, second only to Al Jaffee (451 issues). “They told me, “Make Mad your home,” said Aragonés, “and I took it literally.”
The cartoonist has a featured section in every issue called “A Mad Look At….”, featuring 2-4 pages of speechless comic strips, all related to the same subject. Aragonés also became famous for his wordless “drawn-out dramas” or “marginals” which were inserted into the margins and between panels of the magazine. The drawings are both horizontal and vertical, and occasionally extend around corners. He always draws his male characters overweight. Prior to Aragonés’ arrival at Mad, the magazine had sometimes filled its margins with text jokes under the catch-all heading “Marginal Thinking.” Aragones convinced Feldstein to use his cartoons by creating a dummy sample issue with his Marginals drawn along the edges. The staff of Mad enjoyed his marginals, but expected him to only last one or two issues. They did not expect him to be able to maintain the steady stream of small cartoons needed for each issue. However, Aragonés has provided marginals for every issue of Mad since 1963 except one (his contributions to that issue were lost by the Post Office). Associate Editor Jerry DeFuccio said, “Writing the ‘Marginal Thinking’ marginals had always been a pain in the butt. Sergio made the pain go away.”
Aragonés is a very prolific artist; Al Jaffee once said, “Sergio has, quite literally, drawn more cartoons on napkins in restaurants than most cartoonists draw in their entire careers.” Writer Mark Evanier estimated that, as of 2002, Aragonés had written and drawn more than 12,000 gag cartoons for Mad alone.
Another one of my favorite artists from my youth. An old school cartoonist with a terrific sense of humor.
Dave Berg (Brooklyn, June 12, 1920 – May 17, 2002) was an American cartoonist, most noted for his five decades of work in Mad.
Berg showed early artistic talents, attending Pratt Institute when he was 12 years old, and later studying at Cooper Union. He served a period of time in the Army Air Corps. In 1940, he joined Will Eisner’s studio, where he wrote and drew for the Quality Comics line. Berg’s work also appeared in Dell Comics and Fawcett Publications, typically on humorous back-up features. Beginning in the mid-1940s, he worked for several years with Stan Lee on comic books at Timely Comics (now known as Marvel Comics), ranging from Combat Kelly and The Ringo Kid to Tessie the Typist. He also freelanced for a half-dozen other companies, including EC Comics.
Berg began at Mad in 1956. For five years, he provided satirical looks at areas such as Little League baseball, boating and babysitting. In 1961, he started the magazine’s “Lighter Side” feature, his most famous creation. Berg would take an omnibus topic (such as “Noise,” “Spectators” or “Dog Owners”) and deliver approximately 15 short multi-panel cartoons on the subject. In later years, he dropped the one-topic approach. Berg often included caricatures of his own family, headed by his cranky, hypochondriac alter-ego, Roger Kaputnik, as well as the Mad editorial staff. His artistic style made Berg one of the more realistic Mad artists, although his characters managed to sport garish early-1970s wardrobes well into the 1990s. The art chores for a 1993 article, “The First Day of School 30 Years Ago and Today” were split between Berg and Rick Tulka, since Berg’s old-fashioned appeal made him an ideal choice to depict the gentle nostalgia of 1963. The artist’s lightweight gags and sometimes moralistic tone were roughly satirized by the National Lampoon’s 1971 Mad parody, which included a hard-hatted conservative and a longhaired hippie finding their only common ground by choking and beating Berg. However, “The Lighter Side” had a long run as the magazine’s most popular feature. Mad editor Nick Meglin often did layouts of “Lighter Side” panels. Sixteen original collections by Berg were published as paperbacks between 1964 and 1987.
Berg held an honorary doctorate in theology. He produced regular religious-themed work for Moshiach Times and the B’nai Brith newsletter. His interaction with Mad’s atheist publisher Bill Gaines was suitably irreverent: Berg would tell Gaines, “God bless you,” and Gaines would reply, “Go to Hell.” Berg’s other work included the comic strips Citizen Senior (1989–93), Roger Kaputnik (1992) and Astronuts (1994).
His characters occasionally made their way into other artists’ works, such as Kaputnik finding himself a patient in a Mort Drucker spoof of St. Elsewhere, tagged “with apologies to Dave Berg”.
Berg contributed to Mad until his death, a total of 46 years. His last set of “Lighter Side” strips, which had been written but not penciled, were illustrated after Berg’s death by 18 of Mad’s other artists as a final tribute; this affectionate send-off included the magazine’s final new contribution from Jack Davis. In recent years, Berg’s Lighter Side strips have been rewritten for Mad with inappropriately “un-Berg-like” humor by long time Mad writer Dick DeBartolo and others; this irregular feature is called “The Darker Side of the Lighter Side.
The wildly funny and acerbic Don Martin is capture in this short animated piece. A unique and hilarious artist who was a brand unto himself. He was bigger than Mad Magazine, for whom he toiled for years. His work is unmistakable and cannot be duplicated because it is so him. A perfect synergy of art and staging. Words were not even needed.
Don Martin (May 18, 1931 – January 6, 2000) was an American cartoonist whose best-known work was published in Mad from 1956 to 1988. His popularity and prominence was such that the magazine promoted Martin as “Mad’s Maddest Artist.”
Born on May 18, 1931 in Paterson, New Jersey, Martin studied illustration and fine art at Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts between 1949 and 1951 and subsequently graduated from thePennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1952. In 1953, he worked briefly as a window trimmer and frame maker before providing paste ups and mechanicals for various offset printing clients and beginning his career as freelance cartoonist and illustrator. Martin’s work first appeared in Mad in the September 1956 issue.
Just prior to his work with Mad, Don Martin illustrated the album covers of a few legendary jazz artists for Prestige Records, including Miles Davis’ 1953 album “Miles Davis and Horns” (Prestige LP 7025). He also did “The Art Farmer Septet” (Prestige LP 7031), “Sonny Stitt / Bud Powell / J.J. Johnson” (Prestige LP 7024), Kai Winding’s “Trombone By Three” (Prestige LP 7023) and Stan Getz’ “The Brothers” (Prestige LP 7022).
Career with Mad
Martin often was billed as “Mad’s Maddest Artist.” Whereas other features in Mad, recurring or otherwise, typically were headed with pun-filled “department” titles, Martin’s work always was headed with only his name — “Don Martin Dept.” — further fanfare presumably being unnecessary. At his peak, each issue of Mad typically carried three Martin strips of one or two pages each.
Although Martin’s contributions invariably featured outrageous events and sometimes outright violations of the laws of space-time, his strips typically had unassuming generic titles such as “A Quiet Day in the Park” or “One Afternoon at the Beach”. In one four-panel gag, titled “One Night in the Miami Bus Terminal,” a man approaches a machine labeled “Change,” inserts a dollar bill, and the machine changes him into a woman. In another gag, a man is flattened by a steamroller but is saved by the timely intervention of a concerned passerby, who folds him into a paper airplane and throws him towards the nearest hospital.
Martin, who was a member of both the National Cartoonists Society and The Graphic Artists Guild (GAG),was regarded as a quiet man who enjoyed relaxing on the beach near his home in Miami, where he liked slipping into the backgrounds of photographs tourists would take of each other, so when their films were developed they would wonder who the strange man was. Fellow Mad contributor Sergio Aragonés had the same impish habit.
Style and technique
Martin’s immediately recognizable drawing style (which featured bulbous noses, and the famous hinged foot) was loose, rounded and filled with broad slapstick. His inspirations, plots and themes were often bizarre and at times bordered on the berserk. In his earliest years with Mad, Martin used a more jagged, scratchy line. His style evolved, settling into its familiar form by 1964. It was typified by a sameness in the appearance of the characters (the punchline to a strip often was emphasized by a deadpan take with eyes half open and the mouth absent or in a tight, small circle of steadfast perplexity) and by an endless capacity for newly coined, onomatopoetic sound effects, such as “BREEDEET BREEDEET” for a croaking frog, “PLORTCH” for a knight being stabbed by a sword, or “FAGROON klubble klubble” for a collapsing building.
His characters often had ridiculous, rhyming names such as Fester Bestertester or Fonebone (which was expanded to Freenbean I. Fonebone in at least one strip), as well as Lance Parkertip, Noted Notary Public. In this middle period, Martin created some of his most absurdist work—for example, “National Gorilla Suit Day“—an extended narrative in which a hapless character is violently assaulted by a series of attackers in various disguises, including men dressed as gorillas and gorillas dressed as men. His unique cartooning style gave an uncanny visual depth and dimension to his hilarious scenes and off-the-wall textual sound effects.
Charles Taylor described Martin’s unique art style:
“His people are big-nosed schmoes with sleepy eyes, puffs of wiry hair, and what appear to be life preservers under the waistline of their clothes. Their hands make delicate little mincing gestures and their strangely thin, elongated feet take a 90-degree turn at the toes as they step forward. Whether they’re average Joes or headhunters, Martin’s people share the same physique: a tottering tower of obloids. Martin puts the bodies of these characters through every kind of permutation, treating them as much like gadgets as the squirting flowers and joy buzzers that populate his gags: glass eyes pop out from a pat on the back; heads are steamrollered into manhole-cover shapes. All of this accompanied by a Dadaist panoply of sound effects found nowhere else: shtoink! shklorp! fwoba-dap! It’s unlikely Samuel Beckett was aware of Don Martin, but had he been he might have recognized a kindred spirit.”
His work probably reached its final peak of quality and technical detail in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In later years, particularly during the 1980s, he let other people write most of his gags, most notably Duck Edwing.
Concurrent with his Mad output, Martin and an assortment of writers produced a series of paperback books, to which he retained the copyrights and eventual publishing rights. For this reason, the content of these books was not included in 2007’s Completely Mad Don Martin box set. Martin described his heavy workload for these projects:
“Once I get the OK on the roughs I start the finished drawings. I sort of begin this stage slowly, because doing the finished work always ends up being a seven-day week. An all day, and all evening ordeal. I always anticipate I can draw the books faster than I can. That is a big mistake, since it adds a lot of anxiety, and aggravation to the project. I thought I had developed a system with the last one. I worked on the book in batches of 15 pages or so. I even kept a record to see how long it took me to do the pencils, and how long it took me to do the inks, but it still ended up being seven days a week for a couple of months. I find I have to get some momentum going when I draw. I can’t work with interruptions. I like to have three or four days where I don’t even leave the house on an errand. I get a lot more done that way, because I build up a head of steam.”
Break with Mad
In his last years of working with Mad, Martin had a falling out with publisher William Gaines over royalties for the paperback compilations of older Mad articles and cartoons released under new omnibus titles, such as The Self-Made Mad.Gaines insisted that Martin’s original page rate was for both publication in Mad and all future reprints in any format. Martin objected, claiming at one point that he had likely lost over $1 million in royalties because of this “flat rate” for this work. Martin later testified before a Congressional subcommittee on the rights of freelance artists.
After six years with Cracked, Martin parted company with the magazine. A year later, he launched his own short-lived publication, Don Martin Magazine. This included reprints from some of his original Mad paperbacks to which he had retained copyrights. The first issue included an otherwise nonsensical Martin “interview” conducted by Martin himself, in which he said, “My agent thinks I was nuts to have worked there [Mad] as long as I did,” before expressing fondness for his time at Cracked. In 1991, Martin complained about Mad’s chummy and tribal atmosphere to the Los Angeles Times, saying, “It’s looked upon by the people there as a good thing, like one big family. I came to realize that it’s only a good thing for Bill Gaines. I was so terribly loyal all those years that I turned down work because I had something for Mad Magazine—which is ridiculous.”
Despite a degenerative eye condition, Martin continued to draw into the 1990s using special magnifying equipment. In 2000, he died of cancer in Coconut Grove, Florida at age 68. A private, unassuming person, he delighted in having struggling cartoonists visit his home.
Martin’s cartoons appear in public collections at the National Cartoonists Society and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. He served as a juror at “Hürriyet Vakfi,” an International Cartoon Competition held in Ankara, Turkey in 1986.
Influence on popular culture
Martin’s work has been referenced in numerous arenas, from The Simpsons and Family Guy to The Colbert Report to Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel Motherless Brooklyn, which describes in detail the Tourette’s-afflicted protagonist’s affinity for Martin’s cartoons.
In 1986, the animated feature Don Martin Does It Again was created in Germany by director Andy Knight, and produced by Gerhard Hahn’s Deutsche Zeichentrick Erste Produktions GmbH & Co. KG. It won first prize at the 1986 International Children’s Film Festival in Chicago. Martin strips have also been adapted on Cartoon Network’s Mad and the Fox sketch program MADtv.
In episode #307, “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid” (2001), of Matt Groening’s science-fiction animated television series Futurama, lead character Hermes Conrad mentions a planet called “Don Martin 3” that went “kerflooey”, a homage to one of Martin’s sound effects. (Indeed, Martin himself owned a vanity license plate which read “SHTOINK,” patterned after one of his famed “onomatopoeic” sound effects.) The “Stranded in Space” film shown on TV’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 (show 305) included various visual weapon sound effects (e.g., a gun with a flag which pops out, bearing the sound effect “BANG!”). After a stick of dynamite produced a banner reading “KACHOW”, one of the show’s characters wondered, “Kachow? Kachow?! What, is Don Martin working with you guys now?!”
From 1989 to 1993, Don Martin created a daily comic strip published by Universal Press Syndicate called The Nutheads, featuring a family. The characters included a mother: Hazel, father: Nutley, daughter: Macadamia and baby: Nutkin. Universal Press latter dropped it, because Martin switched to self-syndicating toward the end of the run.
In 2007, a two-volume hardcover box set of Martin’s complete Mad magazine work was published by Running Press.
Taking their cue from one of Martin’s more celebrated stories, National Gorilla Suit Day, fans have celebrated National Gorilla Suit Day by wearing gorilla suits on January 31. No specific date is given in the story, which appeared in the 1963 paperback book Don Martin Bounces Back.
The incredible Mort Drucker, a personal idol of mine. I learned an awful lot about drawing and humor in art from studying and copying Mort. For those of you not familar with the “Mad” master then have a look.
I would be remiss to not wish art a Happy One today. His groundbreaking book Maus set the tone for many comic and graphic novels that came after his.
Art Spiegelman (born February 15, 1948) is an Americancomics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic bookmemoir, Maus. His works are published with his name in lowercase: art spiegelman.
He had one brother named Richieu who died before Art was born. Richieu was caught in the conflicts of World War II and was sent to live with an aunt, Tosha, since the Zawiercieghetto where she resided seemed safer than the Sosnowiec ghetto. When the Germans started to deport people from the Zawiercie ghetto, Tosha poisoned herself, Richieu, her own daughter (Bibi) and her niece (Lonia). (Maus, Volume 2) Art mentions in Maus that he felt like he had a sibling rivalry with a photograph, since his parents were still upset over the death of their first-born son. The second volume of Maus was dedicated to Richieu and to Spiegelman’s daughter Nadja. He also has a son.
In the late winter of 1968, he suffered a brief but intense nervous breakdown, an event occasionally referred to in his work. After his release from a mental hospital, his mother, Anja, committed suicide. Spiegelman was a major figure in the underground comix movement of the 1960s and 1970s, contributing to publications such as Real nulp, Young Lustand Bizarre Sex. He co-founded a significant comics anthology publications, Arcade (with Bill Griffith) in San Francisco during the early 1970s. In 1973 he co-edited with Bob Schneider Whole Grains: A Book of Quotations, featuring the notable words of countercultural icons like Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan before they got much play in such mainstream reference works as Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. The book was mistakenly racked on the “Cookbook” shelves at some bookstores.
In 1976, Spiegelman moved back to New York, where he met Françoise Mouly, an architectural student on a hiatus from her studies at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. They married and he moved into her Soho loft in 1978. He lobbied to see Breakdowns, an anthology of his formal experiments in comics published around that time; it eventually came out from Belier Press to “resounding indifference”.
Undaunted, Mouly insisted on launching a new magazine with Spiegelman, parts of which she would print on the printing press she had brought into her loft, so together they started RAW in 1980. Among many other innovative works, RAW serialized Maus, which retraces Spiegelman’s parents’ story as they survived the Holocaust. In 1986, he released the first volume of Maus (Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale, also known as Maus I: My Father Bleeds History) The second volume, Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began followed in 1991. Maus attracted an unprecedented amount of critical attention for a work in the form of comics, including an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992.
Spiegelman has also worked in more commercial forums: after a summer internship (when he was 18) at Topps Bubble Gum, he was hired as a staff writer-artist-editor in Woody Gelman‘s Product Development Department.During his 20 years with Topps, Spiegelman invented Garbage Candy (candy in the form of garbage, sold in miniature plastic garbage cans), the Wacky Packages card series, Garbage Pail Kids and countless other hugely successful novelties. He farmed out Topps work to many of his friends, such as Jay Lynch, and to his former students, such as Mark Newgarden, collaborating on some products with Lynch and Bhob Stewart.
After 20 years of asking Topps to grant the creators a percentage of the profits, and after other industries (such as Marvel Comics and DC Comics) had grudgingly conceded, Topps still refused. Spiegelman, who had assigned Topps work to many of his cartoonist friends or students, left over the issue of creative ownership and ownership of artwork. In 1989 Topps auctioned off the original artwork they had accumulated over the decades and kept the profits.
Hired by Tina Brown in 1992, Spiegelman worked for The New Yorker for ten years but resigned a few months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The cover created by Spiegelman and Mouly for the September 24 issue of The New Yorker received wide acclaim and was voted in the top ten of magazine covers of the past 40 years by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
At first glance, the cover appears to be totally black, but upon close examination it reveals the silhouettes of the World Trade Center towers in a slightly darker shade of black. Mouly repositioned the silhouettes so that the North Tower’s antenna breaks into the “W” of the logo. The towers were printed in a fifth black ink on a black field employing standard four-color printing inks, and an overprinted clear varnish was added. In some situations, the ghost images only became visible when the magazine was tilted toward a light source.
Spiegelman states that his resignation from The New Yorker was to protest the “widespread conformism” in the United States media. Spiegelman is a sharp critic of the administration of former President George W. Bush and claims that the American media has become “conservative and timid.”
In September 2004, he released In the Shadow of No Towers, a book relating his experience of the Twin Towers attack and the psychological after-effects. Beginning fall 2005, Spiegelman’s new series “Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!” appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review.
In the June 2006 edition of Harper’s magazine, he published an article on the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy which had occurred earlier in the year. At least one vendor, Canada‘s Indigo chain of booksellers, refused to sell the particular issue. Called “Drawing Blood: Outrageous Cartoons and the Art of Outrage” the article contained a survey of the sometimes dire effect of political cartooning on its creators, ranging from Honoré Daumier (who was imprisoned for a satirical work) to George Grosz (who was exiled). The article raised the ire of Indigo because it seemed to promote the continuance of racially-motivated cartooning.
Spiegelman is a prominent advocate for the medium of comics. He taught courses in the history and aesthetics of comics at schools including the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the School of Visual Arts in New York. He tours the country giving a lecture he calls “Comix 101.” An anthology of interviews with Spiegelman, spanning 25 years and a wide variety of printed venues, was published by University Press of Mississippi in 2007 as Art Spiegelman: Conversations.
For all us enthusiasts of Mad Magazine, this is a hallowed day. This day brought forth a man, an artist that was unique, satirical and damn funny. The linework, the characters everything about Spy vs Spy was groundbreaking and so much a part of Mad magazine that you could say that Antonio was one of the pillars that supports the Magazine and it’s legend.
Antonio Prohías (January 17, 1921 – February 24, 1998), born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, was a cartoonist most famous for creating the comic strip Spy vs. Spy for MAD Magazine.
In 1946, Prohías was given the Juan Gualberto Gómez award, recognizing him as the foremost cartoonist in Cuba. By the late 1940s, Prohías had begun working at El Mundo, the most important newspaper in Cuba. In January 1959, Prohías was the president of the Cuban Cartoonists Association; after Fidel Castro seized power, he personally honored the cartoonist for his anti-Batista political cartoons. But Prohías soon soured on Castro’s policies. When he drew cartoons to this effect, he was dismissed by his newspapers, which had been taken over by Fidel Castro’s government. With his professional career in limbo, Prohías left Cuba for New York on May 1, 1960. Ten weeks later, he had sold his first work to Mad.
The Mad staff occasionally took group vacations, traveling en masse to other countries. Prohías took part in these vacations when possible, but as a Cuban exile, he had trouble gaining admission into some countries, and at the airport before a vacation to Italy, an airport official said, “You can leave if you want, but you can never come back.” After the group returned, he presented a drawing to MAD publisher William M. Gaines, which was of him, with the Spies at his feet, letting his heart fly over the angry airport officials to the rest of the MAD gang, with a note at the bottom which, when translated, reads: “Mr. Gaines, my heart will always travel with you.”
Although he is most famous for Spy vs. Spy, the majority of his comic strips, such as El Hombre Siniestro, La Mujer Siniestra, and Tovarich, were published mostly or only in Cuba. Altogether, only about 20 of his roughly 270 contributions to Mad were of anything other than the spy series. As a result, most of the available information on this other work comes from the Spy Vs Spy Complete Casebook (Watson-Guptill, 2001).
He died of cancer at age of 77 and is buried in Woodlawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum (now Caballero Rivero Woodlawn North Park Cemetery and Mausoleum) in Miami, Florida.