Monday, June 07, 2010

Mendelsohn's March of Comics

Monday Cartoon Day.

It took some time to get the scans done, but here are the samples of Jack Mendelsohn's work as a satirical writer I promised last week. Although Mendelsohn became an important writer for Mad later on in the sicties, he dabbled in the genre pretty early on. The first sample is one from a 1950 issue of Dell's 1000 Jokes. The editor of this issue was Mort walker, by the way. I have already shown some of Walker's written pieces for that issue. Or at least the signed ones, as it is possible he did more than just the two I found. I have been looking for the other Walker edited issues from that period, but they haven't turned up yet. If anyone has any to share, please let me know.

As you can see, Mendelsohn's piece was nothing more than an artist's attempt to sell more than one cartoons. Magazines such as 1000 jokes often grouped cartoons together around a theme, so it doesn't come as a surprise that some enterprising cartoonists started assembling their own themed pages. However this page came to be, it is an early example of the 'statement and samples' style of humor that was popularized at Mad under Al Feldsein. As normal as we may think of that 'top ten list' type of humor these days, I have found no samples of it in the humor magazines in the thirties (although there might have been one occasionally) and even Harvey Kurtzman (who did this type of humor for some of his pieces in Variety before Mad, didn't use it in his version of the magazine Mad. It's probably one of those things, which everyone picks up as soon as they see it works (like the addition of speech balloons to photo's with funny captions by Harvey Kurtzman and Stan Lee, who came upon it independendly around the same time).

1000 Jokes, Spring 1950:

The next two pieces are among the prize elements of my book on Mad magazine imitations, if it ever comes to be. I have written about the Mad cmic imitations of 1954 for alter Ego, but an even bigger and more impressive piece could be done about the Mad magazine imitation sof 1957 to 1959. The number of great pages by surprising artists and brand names is staggering. If my current negotiations to turn the first article into a book are a succes, the magazine part will be likely to follow.

One of the major outfits to try and imitate the succes of Kurtman's magazine version of his comic book hit Mad, was pocket book, magazine and comics producer Fawcett. Here was an outfit with seriously deep pockets. They knew that it was wirth the trouble to put out a bit of cash for a magazine that could potentially sell a million copies. And so they hired the best talent, among them Russ Heath, Joe Kubert, Mike Sekowsky, Ross Andru, Basil Wolverton, Jack Mendelsohn and Lee Elias. Their effort was called Lunatickle and it didn't run for more than two issues. But similar material turned up at a cheaper made photo humor book called Cockeyed. This may have been material prepared for a third issue of Lunatickle, but I can't be sure. Both articles here were written by Mendelsohn, whowrote a lot of these books, but he certainly wasn't the only writer. Or even the only name writer. The second one should please any horror comic fan, as it is a ten page examnation of the comic book trials that were held in New York by senator Kefauver. It is everything you wld have hoped Kurtzman's parody of senator McCarthy's communist witchhunt trails What's My Line in Mad would have bee if it had tackled this subject.

Cockeyed #5:

Lunatickle #2:

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