Legendary Illustrators Celebrate MAD Magazine

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Legendary illustrators Drew Friedman, Al Jaffee, and Arnold Roth discuss the life and work of Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist, writer, and editor who was the founding editor and creator of the most important comics satire magazine in 20th-century America, MAD.

(c) Drew Friedman
Al Jaffee, illustration by Drew Friedman, from Portraits of Comic Book Legends
(c) Drew Friedman
Harvey Kurtzman, illustration by Drew Friedman, from Portraits of Comic Book Legends
Arnold Roth
Arnold Roth. New Yorker cover, November 16, 2002
Arnold Roth
Arnold Roth. From The New Yorker
Arnold Roth
Illustration by Arnold Roth
Arnold Roth
Illustration by Arnold Roth
Arnold Roth
Illustration by Arnold Roth


Drew Friedman, Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth

Comments [13]

Mrs Don Martin from Miami

Those trips were NOT free. Everyone paid part of their way AND they were "obliged" to contribute ART or writings to a Trip Book thanking the fat man for suposedly giving them the trip for free. All the MAD Loyalists--Sergio, Don Edwing, Jafee--will go to their graves praising that miserable, greedy bastard!! Who I think committed suicide rather than stop overeating. Mrs. Don Martin 4/11/2013

Apr. 11 2013 09:33 PM
clive betters

i respect my elders[for the most part]but i get very antsy,when there is an older person on radio being interviewed, that just can't articulate at a linear comfortable pace. i'm caught between feeling bad for them;and, being a bit exasperated over the slow and sometimes digressive delivery of information. it's very hard to concentrate on what is being said,and it's simply not enjoyble listening for me. the younger,and or, more coherent fellow, bailing out the elder,as was the case here;is itself a mixed bag. it's also cringe inducing. and i loved MAM MAG,too, btw. [if my punctuation is cringe inducing,stuff it.]

Mar. 19 2013 08:50 PM
Leslie Tucker from Manhattan

I was at Parsons School of Design in 1974-5 in the Illustration department, and Harvey Kurtzman was a guest lecturer for one of my classes, I think it was the class that Brad Holland taught. I remember Harvey telling us at the time how resentful he was for walking away from MAD *after* it started making money. My take from meeting Harvey was how bitter he was about the magazine's success after he left, and that he seemed especially resentful of Bill Gaines.

I also see Dean Yeagle's name as the 2nd comment, so IF you're the same Dean Yeagle, I used to work with you when I was a packaging designer at Wallace Church Associates and at Peterson & Blyth Associates in NYC :-)

Mar. 19 2013 05:38 PM
fuva from harlemworld

I collected Mad magazine for years. The very best.

Mar. 19 2013 05:18 PM
Dean Yeagle from Sierra Madre, CA

Whatever is said about Bill Gaines, he took all the artists from MAD on trips all over the world, at his own expense, every year. Some months ago, at CAPS (our cartoonists social group in LA), Sergio Aragones gave a wonderful talk and slide show on these trips. I never met Gaines, but there's something to be said for a boss that takes you to Europe, Africa, South America, all on his own nickel. Of course, he had a lot of nickels.

Mar. 19 2013 03:44 PM

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Tonight's panel discussion should be great.

Mar. 19 2013 02:28 PM

Did I hear Lopate just say this thing tonight was at 128 E. 63rd St?? Isn't that where Gaines lived, or did I get that wrong?
I recall looking him up back in about '81 when I wanted him as a guest on my college radio show on WKCR. Looked him up in the White Pages -- yes, he was listed -- and saw he lived in two adjoining townhouses, with 2 phone numbers, both listed. Dialed one and he picked up the phone. No big deal. "Sure, I'll be on your show. But you have to either come to my house with tape recorder or record it over the phone, 'cause I'm too fat and lazy to come to your studio." We did it on the the phone. (Should have gone to his house, but still have the raw tapes up in a closet somewhere.) Boy, to hear him and to hear these artists, one really gets a different viewpoint. He respected them all as artists and writers, but took all the credit for creating the whole thing and for "discovering" them and Norman Mingo. Years later, I met another one of the artists (not the ones on the show today), who HATED Gaines. Said Gaines owned the whole magazine and all its contents, lock, stock and barrel, and that all writers and artists were on the books strictly as month-to-month freelancers, from whom he bought each month's pieces outright, with no rights for reprinting (i.e. all those little paperback MAD books). "He bought each piece, gave us a check, and it belonged to him from that moment on. No payroll, nothing. No one was 'on staff'. Those books -- we got nothing for our work being re-printed. It was his property. Royalties? Forget it. He was a greedy bastard. That's why he was so rich."
Of course, I didn't notice any of these guys today professing any great love for Gaines either!

Mar. 19 2013 02:19 PM
Mike from Tribeca

When I moved to NYC, Mad Magazine was the first place I applied for a job as a paste-up mechanical artist, not that I thought I had a chance of working there, but just to be in the very place that had the biggest influence on me as a youngster. I even got to meet the legendary publisher William Gaines!

Mar. 19 2013 01:52 PM
John A

Insightful to our commercialized culture,
the original 'AdBusters',
and perhaps less mad than AdBusters is now.

Mar. 19 2013 01:49 PM
John from Fanwood, NJ

Leonard, thanks so much for doing this story. My dad, who died last year at 93, drew comic books for Eisner and Eiger, and Fiction House after the war. I just read David Hajdu's "10 Cent Plague" and found out how turbulent the comic book business was. Dad left the comic books to draw and write Tarzan for the newspapers. The Hajdu book brought back so many familiar names that dad associated with.

Mar. 19 2013 01:47 PM
Hal from Crown Heights

I feel privileged to have taken his cartooning class at the School of Visual Arts in the mid-seventies. The class was always fun and funny, and he was a super nice guy.

Mar. 19 2013 01:45 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I started reading MAD in 1956 when I was around age 10.It changed my life forever. It gave me that off-center sense of humor that remained for me for decades afterwards.It was so different from everything else, and soon there were imitators, but none anywhere nearly as good. It's like comparing the Simpsons to the Flintstones.

Mar. 19 2013 01:33 PM
Mike from Tribeca

Leonard, how I envy you for being in the presence of living gods!

Mar. 19 2013 01:33 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.