‘Mad’ Magazine is one of the most significant publications in comics history. Research some of its cartoonists and artists listed below:
- Don Martin
- Antonio Prohias
- Mort Drucker
- Al Jaffee
I really enjoyed finding out about the artists in this Research Task. I am a big fan of humour, particularly slapstick, so I had a great time looking at some of the examples.
I thought that Martin’s art style in his Mad contributions was similar to that used in British comics such as the Beano and Dandy, which I read as a child. The humour in his comics was visual and fairly easy to interpret. The characters had an exaggerated, cartoony style with the use of fairly simple features and shapes. Martin employed the use of movement lines a great deal, adding to the energy in his compositions, which often included plenty of action. Additionally, Martin is well known in the industry for his inventive use of onomatopoeia, creating words such as ‘thak’, ‘klakka dakka’, ‘womp’ and ‘shklip shklap’.
I found it fascinating how the Cuban artist Prohias barely spoke any English during the entire time he worked at Mad Magazine and thus created almost solely visual gags in his comics, most notably Spy vs. Spy. It confirmed to me how visual communication can break down barriers that are often faced when verbal/written language is introduced.
As with Martin, Prohias made great use of movement lines and I found his intentions with each comic strip were generally very easy to understand (it was only when I was not aware of the context that I became slightly confused).
Mort Drucker was most famous for his caricatures created for Mad Magazine. I found it quite unbelievable that he was almost entirely self-taught and learnt how to draw people by studying the work of master artists. I thought this was evidenced in the quality and detail of his art, seemingly able to truly capture both the physical likeness and personality of his subjects.
Drucker was also capable of drawing the characters from various angles and in action, not solely in static, face-on situations, which I found quite astounding.
Although Drucker utilised the recognisable traits of caricatures, such as enlarged heads and exaggerated features, he also focused on the subtle details such as wrinkles and the unique anatomical features of his subjects, which enabled him to capture such startling similarities.
Al Jaffee, who holds the record as the longest serving cartoonist, created a wide range of content for Mad Magazine. He is most famous for his inventive ‘fold-in’ cover pages, which required the reader to interact with the page in order to reveal an underlying message/image when the back cover was folded together as directed. I could not decide whether I was more impressed with how he managed to ensure the image or the text matched up and made sense or that he managed to continually come up with the ideas for each issue.
Alongside the ‘fold-in’ creation, Jaffe also wrote and illustrated many other strips in the magazine, such as ‘Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions‘, which poked fun at the stupidity of people.
Jaffe varied his style in the different illustrations, from stylised realism in the ‘fold-ins’ to the ‘simplistic’ cartoon style of ‘Tall Tales‘. Additionally, some of the strips included text, whilst others were purely visual.
Greenfield, D. (2021). 13 Mad Fold-ins: An Al Jaffee Birthday Celebration. [online] 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture. Available at: https://13thdimension.com/13-mad-fold-ins-an-al-jaffee-birthday-celebration/ [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Knudde, K. (2021). Al Jaffee. [online] Lambiek Comiclopedia. Available at: https://www.lambiek.net/artists/j/jaffee_al.htm [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Knudde, K. (2021). Antonio Prohias. [online] Lambiek Comiclopedia. Available at: https://www.lambiek.net/artists/p/prohias_antonio.htm [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Knudde, K. (2021). Mort Drucker. [online] Lambiek Comiclopedia. Available at: https://www.lambiek.net/artists/d/drucker_mort.htm [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Lambiek Comiclopedia, (2020). Don Martin. [online] Available at: https://www.lambiek.net/artists/m/martin_don.htm [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Al Jaffee. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jaffee [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Antonio Prohías. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Proh%C3%ADas [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Don Martin cartoonist. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Martin_%28cartoonist%29 [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Mad Fold-in. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Fold-in [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Mort Drucker. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mort_Drucker [Accessed 14 December 2021].