Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mort Drucker, Mad genius of caricature

As described in a Wikipedia biography, cartoonist Mort Drucker is considered “Number one in a field of one” by Nick Meglin, Mad editor. Drucker went to work for Mad in 1956, and is the artist with the longest term of employment at the magazine. Drucker’s forte is caricature, the likenesses of movie and televison stars, among others. He draws satires that not only point out the essence of absurdity in most entertainment, but with drawings that capture the stars in an instantly recognizable form. In a quote from the Wikipedia article Drucker says:
I've always considered a caricature to be the complete person, not just a likeness. Hands in particular have always been a prime focus for me as they can be as expressive of character as the exaggerations and distortions a caricaturist searches for. I try to capture the essence of the person, not just facial features... I've discovered through years of working at capturing a humorous likeness that it's not about the features themselves as much as the space between the features. We all have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, hair and jaw lines, but yet we all look different. What makes that so is the space between them.
Good advice for any caricaturist from the all-time master.

Here are two examples from the Golden Age of Mad. “Why Spy?” is from Mad #111 and is a take-off on a television show popular between 1965-68. It was one of the first TV shows with a lead African-American actor, Bill Cosby, co-starring with Robert Culp, and since it was produced during the Civil Rights struggle in America some TV stations in the South refused to carry it. In the show itself race was not a factor, and that carries over into the satire. In the real world outside of the show it was a big deal.

“Mighty Joe Kong” is from Mad #94, and isn’t a direct satire, but an example of a type of satire done effectively in Mad, setting different stars in a pastiche or version of a movie story or type of story. In this case Drucker absolutely nailed Dick Van Dyke, James Garner and Doris Day, not to mention Kong!

Both stories are Copyright © 2014 E.C. Publications, Inc.


Kirk said...

Looking at what you have here, I think I'm most impressed with Doris Day, and how Drucker emphasizes her freckles for comic effect, yet not in a way that detracts from her essential attractiveness.

Postino said...

Kirk, they used a lot of makeup on Doris Day to cover those freckles, but often they showed through. She was a cutey.