Wednesday, October 04, 2006


So who are your heroes? And no, I'm not talking about that new TV show on NBC. I'm talking about your personal heroes, people who have inspired and influenced your life. Who would be on your own personal Mount Rushmore? Here are a few of mine from MAD Magazine. I recently got to draw a tribute to one of my all-time heroes, the legendary Jack Davis. CAPS (Comic Art Professional Society) is honoring him with a lifetime achievement award banquet this month and this was my small contribution to what will no doubt be a massive book full of sketches and tributes to Mr. Davis. When I was a kid, I grew up on Mad Magazine. It inspired me to draw and taught me a lot about cartooning and drawing in general. I was especially drawn to the work of these four cartoonists: Jack Davis, Don Martin, Antonio Prohias and Sergio Aragonés.

Jack Davis
Jack Davis is a living legend, his work transcending all boundaries. From MAD, TIME, Sports Illustrated, EC Comics, movie posters and tons of commercial and advertising work you've undoubtedly seen his work. He was, at the height of his career, the highest paid illustrator in the world. Of course, I didn't know any of that when I was a kid reading MAD Magazine. I just loved his drawings.

Don Martin (1931–2000)
Don Martin was called "MAD's Maddest Artist." His style was unlike anything young Aaron Sowd had ever seen (or will ever see again, for that matter)! Mr. Martin was truly an original. His floppy feet and giant noses cracked me up. His bizarre hairstyles and slapstick humor always made me laugh. So much so, my own character Dr. Pimento from Masterminds has a little of the classic Don Martin-isms:

Antonio Prohias (1921-1998)
Antonio Prohias created Spy vs. Spy. When I was very young, it was one of my favorites. With no dialogue and clever contraptions and gadgets, the cartoon was perfect for a kid to follow. You didn't have to read, or even know English, to get the humor and the story. Brilliant stuff. I was lucky enough to get to draw Mr. Prohias' characters for the Spy vs. Spy video game box cover. How cool is that?

Sergio Aragonés
Sergio Aragonés went on to create Groo The Wanderer, one of my all time favorite comic books. But when I was a kid, Sr. Aragonés was famous for his wordless "drawn-out dramas" or "marginals" in MAD Magazine. Again, cartoons everyone could understand! Worldwide (and world class) humor!


Fred Schiller said...

Your Spy vs. Spy box art was spot on.

When I was young and foolish I bought each issue of Mad (as well as the paperbacks) that I could get my slightly moist hands on.

I was certain that Mort Drucker was some sort of machine. No human could draw caricatures that well. As I recall the movie parodies were never especially well written, but between Drucker and Torres, they were sure drawn well.

I also seriously dug Al Jaffee’s spot drawings as well as his full-blown stories. There was one extended piece that he did on the secrets of stage magicians that I’m still astonished by to this day.

Everything Sergio did was a delight, but for pure joyful simplicity you can’t beat his marginal comments.

Bless Don Martin being thrown in the mix, otherwise there would be nothing for us budding cartoonists to copy and practice drawing. Good look trying to draw a Dave Berg piece or something by George Woodbridge.

Of course I read it every month, but there was a creepy quality to Spy vs. Spy that bugs me even to this day. These guys certainly weren’t American, right? Well, maybe the guy in white worked for the US. Either way, the tone of the art and the style of the characters had a strange foreign quality that made me uncomfortable. If asked to explain myself in detail, I would shift my weight from foot to foot, hem and haw for a while, then claim that I could hear my mother calling and that I had to go home.

Perhaps Spy vs. Spy bugged me because the characters didn’t have any pupils in their eyes. I thought I was over the whole thing of how much the characters bugged me, but then Dr. Pepper came out with those live action S vs. S commercials a few years back.

Again, nice box art.


Aaron Sowd said...

Mort Drucker is a genius. I love his art, but he didn't influence me until later in life. When I was a kid, the more "realistic" cartoons weren't as appealing to my untrained eye. Don Martin was just the coolest to a little kid!

Antonio Prohias was born in Cuban, and Sergio Aragonés is Spanish, so prehaps that's why their cartoons where wordless and translated into any language.

antonio said...

and to add info about Sergio Aragones, He likes to tell that He asked for the job in Mad but because there was none He offered himself to draw the bottoms and tops of the pages and that is how He got his job!! least is the urban legend!!


Aaron Sowd said...

That's a good story about Sergio! I'll see him at the CAPS banquet in a few weeks, so I will ask him if it's true!

skill_ challenge said...

Wait what is master minds? Is it a comic or animated series or... tried searching it up, but to no avail. I'm extremely curious, anybody know?