Goodbye To An Artist With Real Character
Mad Magazine legend Mort Drucker, who was responsible for some of the best movie parodies there over a number of decades, has just died at the age of 91. Here’s an excerpted version of his obituary from the New York Times…
Mort Drucker, a longtime contributor to Mad magazine known for his caricatures of actors, politicians and other celebrities, died on Thursday at his home in Woodbury, N.Y. He was 91.
His death was confirmed by his daughter Laurie Bachner.
Morris Drucker was born on March 22, 1929, in Brooklyn. His father, Edward, was a businessman who repaired jukeboxes and ran a bar, among other things. His mother, Sarah (Spielvogel) Drucker, was a homemaker. He attended Erasmus Hall High School, where he met his future wife, Barbara Hellerman.
Mr. Drucker, who specialised in illustrating Mad’s movie and television satires, inspired several generations of cartoonists. “To me, he’s the guy,” the caricaturist Drew Friedman said. “I used to imitate his work in Mad when I was a kid. I wanted to be Mort Drucker; I even loved his name.”
Mr. Drucker began his professional career at 18 when, recommended by the cartoonist Will Eisner, a family friend, he got a job assisting on the comic book Debbie Dean, Career Girl. He also worked on a syndicated single-panel strip, “The Mountain Boys,” before finding steady work with National Periodical Publications, now known as DC Comics. He continued to freelance for DC even after joining Mad’s “usual gang of idiots.”
Working in a studio at his home in Woodbury, on Long Island, he also drew magazine illustrations, album covers, movie posters and advertisements.
Mr. Drucker was modest about his gifts. “When I started working for Mad, they assigned me TV satires and asked me to draw famous people,” he recalled. “So I just did it. It took me a long time to learn the skills I have, and it was time-consuming. With me, everything is trial and error.”
Mr. Drucker’s facility was best expressed in multi-caricature crowd scenes. His parody of the 1986 Woody Allen film, Hannah and Her Sisters, opened with a panel depicting a Thanksgiving dinner that, in addition to most of the movie’s ensemble cast, included caricatures of Mr. Allen’s first wife, Louise Lasser; the film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel; Mayor Ed Koch of New York; and Mad’s mascot, Alfred E. Neuman. His drawing for a 1970 Time magazine cover, “Battle for the Senate,” now in the National Portrait Gallery, featured a pileup of 15 individually characterised political figures, including President Richard M. Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew. Mad’s takeoff on the MGM retrospective feature “That’s Entertainment,” published in 1975, required Mr. Drucker to caricature more than two dozen stars.
“I think I’ve drawn almost everyone in Hollywood,” he told The New York Times in 2000.
A self-taught freelance cartoonist who had worked on war, western, science fiction and romance comic books as well as personality-driven titles like The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and The Adventures of Bob Hope, Mr. Drucker came to Mad in late 1956, soon after Al Feldstein succeeded Harvey Kurtzman, the magazine’s founder, as editor. Mad had run only occasional TV and movie satires, but Mr. Drucker’s arrival “changed everything,” the pop-culture critic Grady Hendrix wrote in a 2013 Film Comment appreciation of Mad’s movie parodies.
From the early 1960s on, nearly every issue of Mad included a movie parody, and before Mr. Ducker retired he had illustrated 238, more than half of them. The last one, “The Chronic-Ills of Yawnia: Prince Thespian,” appeared in 2008.
Mr. Drucker compared his method to creating a movie storyboard: “I become the ‘camera,’” he once said, “and look for angles, lighting, close-ups, wide angles, long shots — just as a director does to tell the story in the most visually interesting way he can.”
Friedman praised Mr. Drucker’s restraint: “He wasn’t really hung up on exaggerating. He was far more subtle and nuanced — interested in how people stood and so on.”
We here at Tripwire are very sad at his passing as we have been fans of his work for many years and pass on our condolences to his friends and family.
To read the entire New York Times obituary, visit here