Mad's Maddest Unknowns
Thursday Story Strip Day.
Very little is known about the artists that made Mad magazine great. They were called Mad's Maddest and that must have seem an honor, but in fact it was that name and the fact that they were always presented as a group, that prevented journalists and fans to look beyond that. None of them were ever interviewed seperately. There were books written about Mad, of course, but none of them got any attention seperately. So we know very little about the question where Don Martin got his unique style. Or what Bob Clarke did before he became Mad's goto man for any sort of funny production art. Or what side-projects Paul Coker did, or any of them. Only Sergio Aragones and Al Jaffee seem to have gotten some attention, but that is mostly because of the fact they did things outside of Mad as well. And they lived long enough to get their turn to speak out. There was a great book done about the EC artists, which gave an overview of their careers before, outside and after EC by Grant Geissman. He also did the book on everything you can collect about Mad. Someone should ask him to do a book on the artists who made Mad magazine great. And the writers too, if he is at it. It's only in recent years I have found out some of those had television careers as well. And who knew that King Aroo's Jack Kent designed covers for Norman Mingo?
Most of the Mad artists tried their hand at newspaper strips at some time. Some are better known than others. Al Jafee's Tall Tales was a moderate succes. Mort Drucker's political strip got a bit of attention. Jack Davis didn't do bad for himself. Don Martin's post-Mad newspaper efforts have been reprinted by Dark Horse. But there were others. And probably more than I am aware of. Paul Coker did at least two attempts at a newspaper gag strip. Bob Clarke worked on a satirical panel with a writer (whch I will show some other day). And jack Rickard did a funny adventure strip which I can only describe as a cross between Get Smart and the later comedy series Soap. Pauline McPerill told the (mis)adventures of a blondhaired secretary, who gets kidnapped and tied up and saved by her boyfriend over and over and over again. It's not so much funny as it is over the top. But artwise it is pure Jack Rickard and what qualifies it for a turn here is the fact it has remained so u known all these years. As has the comic book work of Mort Drucker, Angelo Torres and George Woodbridge. Or the illustration career of Norman Mingo. Or the cartoon background of Duck Edwing. Or the life and sudden disappearance of Harry North.
The story starts in Holland, at Madurodam, a real life miniature village in The Hague. And it doesn't really end. It just goes on and on...