Mort Drucker is one of the finest caricaturists and cartoonists of our age. He is often overlooked for a couple of reasons. One reason is that he is overshadowed by the attention paid to people like Al Hirschfeld and David Levine, along with editorial cartoonists and other caricaturists who work in more literary and cultural venues. The other is that Drucker’s main venue, aside from occasional Time and TV Guide covers, has been Mad magazine, and you don’t get much more culturally disrespected than that.
Drucker has been creating splendiferous move and TV parodies in the pages of Mad since the late 50′s, for a time appearing while the great Wally Wood was still plying his visual magic at the magazine. For my money, Drucker is the only one of the post-EC Mad artists who is in the same class with Wood, Will Elder and Jack Davis (and that class is within the all time top echelon of comics artists).
Drucker is the absolute best ever at combining consistently brilliant caricatures with comics, i.e. sequential storytelling; in this he even surpasses Wood and Elder. Unlike Herschfeld and Levine, he doesn’t just create a likeness in a single image, he draws multi-page comics stories in which the caricatures are consistent, recognizable and hilariously dead-on through the course of a story, requiring a wide range of position, action and expression!
On top of all of that, Mort Drucker has one of the most wonderfully realized humorous comic drawing styles I’ve ever encountered. Every line, every figure, expression and background element is a visual treat. His lively, springy lines are full of energy and a loose, comfortable feeling that makes Drucker’s drawings just vibrate with visual fun. You get the impression that his pen just dances across the paper, leaving its marvelous marks almost as a residual effect of the joy of drawing. David Apatoff’s Illustration Art blog has a wonderful post dedicated just to the way Drucker draws hands (from which I borrowed the following image).
There was a book published in ’98 devoted to his work, Familiar Faces: The Art of Mort Drucker by David Douglas Duncan. Unfortunately, it’s out of print and demanding high prices as a collectable. For an easier (and perhaps better) way to get a look at Drucker’s genius, pick up some of theMad collections that feature his work. Some good ones would be Mad About the Sixties : The Best of the Decade, or Mad About the Movies: Special Warner Bros Edition and Mad About TV. Another would be Mad About the Fifties, which doesn’t contain as much Drucker, but has the bonus of including brilliant work by Wood, Elder, Davis and Harvey Kurtzman.
Great news from Mad Magazine.
We are proud to announce the third installment of our popular book series, MAD’s Greatest Artists— this one celebrating the legendary Mort Drucker, universally acclaimed as one of the greatest humorous illustrators and caricaturists of all time. It always struck us as odd that a man of Mort’s immense talent would work for us, but we’re glad he does! This book is a rich compilation of Mort’s MAD work from the past five decades, including movie parodies, TV spoofs, and satirical jabs at eight presidents! It also features a brand new interview with Mort himself by longtime MAD Editor Nick Meglin. As an added bonus, there's a full-color, pull-out vintage poster reprinted for the first time in almost 50 years! With an introduction by Michael J. Fox, the book features essays by some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, including J.J. Abrams, Frank Darabont, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. On sale October 23 from Running Press. Pre-order your copy today by clicking here!
I have posted an original cartoon by Mort Drucker in an article about Batman drawn by famous cartoonists.
Great post. Mort was a freaking genius. An immense talent who, for the most part, has been totally under appreciated by both art snobs and comic book slobs.ReplyDelete
I posted a Batman drawing by Mort Drucker in the following article:Delete
I don't know...some of us "comic book slobs" well remember Mad 201 with its 1978 parody of the already (somehow) "iconic" Saturday Night Fever and having our taste and sensibilities for the whole meaning of the form forever raised, but I take your point about the under appreciation of the general quality of Mad--which, as the revenge of EC comics continued to win that war of generally employing the most brilliant artists--but perhaps suffered for it being comedy, "just funny satire,"--a stance we could bear only because Mad raised it to such an art as to make it seem "easy."Delete
But, yes, Drucker is amonngst the finest artists of the form who worked for the finest comic company the industry has ever seen. Do not despair: Mad--and EC--live. And Drucker stands like a standard over the entire enterprise.
I bought the book on Monday and it turned out to be much better than I had anticipated. I had the pleasure of meeting Mort at the 1989 NCS convention in Toronto. He was kind enough to draw a cartoon of Batman for a friend's fanzine. Come to think of it, I'll add it to this article as soon as I find the time.ReplyDelete
Mort Drucker was my hero since I was a kid in the 60s. I credit him for inspiring me to draw cartoons. When you see my work his influence is obvious. Check my stuff out at http://www.disturbanlegend.comReplyDelete