Monday, December 19, 2016

The Precursors Of Mad, part one

Monday Cartoon Day.

Apart from a prolific writer of many humor and satire titles, cartoons and his own newspaper strip Jacky's Diary, Jack Mendelsohn also was a pretty good cartoonist. Most of his work in that field he did in the late forties and early fifties, much of it for Dell's 1000 Jokes magazine. Since I am about to sell my collection of those magazines, I checked to see what I had not yet shared with you and apart from a couple of random cartoons here and there, I found quite a few that seemed unknown. What makes these cartoons so special is that fact that Jack Mendelsohn seems to have been doing Mad type humor long before he became a Mad writer. Now, if we talk about Mad, we have of course to treat it as two separate magazines. There is the comic book Mad, created by Harvey Kurtzman, which had a successful run of 23 issues and influenced a lot of artists and humorists. After that, Harvey Kurtzman himself did five issues of the magazine version of Mad, which had a look and content all of their own. In fact, under Kurtzman it was more of a magazine parody than it would ever be after he left. With #29, Al Feldstein became the main editor and he proceeded pretty quickly in turning MAd into the magazine most of us know - and a huge succes. The comic book Mad had a different sort of humor. All of it was channeled into the form of comic book stories, magnificently executed by Wallace Wood, Jack Davis and Bill Elder. The Feldstein magazine had funny articles, illustrated by America's Maddest artists. Under Feldstein many funny formats were introduced and usually turned into regular series. It is those types of humor (often in the 'statement and samples'-format) that we see with Jack Mendelsohn's contributions to 1000 Jokes in the late forties. Many writers have said that Feldstein's Mad was influenced by the humor magazines of the thirties. And indeed, there is a similarity to the photo illustrated ad spoofs, for instance. But the articles Jack Mendelsohn did seem a much more direct link. Makes you wonder why or how Mendelsohn (who had written for Feldsteins official Mad imitation Panic) wasn't included in the first few years of Feldstein's Mad magazine.

By the way, Mendelsohn wasn't the only one doing these sort of Mad precursors articles in 1000 Jokes. Chas. Straus did quite a few of them as well, including spreads of scenes with lots of action in it. Mort Walker, who was the editor of 1000 Jokes in 1949/50 and included a lot of that sort of articles in his issues (although the already appeared before he was an editor as well), drew similar stuff when he was the editor of The Missouri Show Me, but none for 1000 Jokes.

All of these pages are not included in my book on Mad magazine imitations, because they fell outside of the purview of Behaving Madly and frankly, I needed the space for the other articles. But if you like this sort of thing, check out the book using the link to your right. It will come out shortly and I am very proud of it.

1 comment:

rodineisilveira said...

Jack Mendelson also written scripts for animation, more exactly for Hanna-Barbera.