Monday, April 11, 2016

Behind the scene at MAD Magazine

I remember my first issue of MAD magazine - it was given to me by my Aunt Hazel, I was about 7 or 8 years old.  And I loved the magazine, especially the cartoons by Jack Davis and Don Martin.  It was the funniest thing I'd ever seen (except for Tex Avery's "Red Hot Riding Hood" cartoon).  I wasn't a constant subscriber, but I've always enjoyed the magazine whenever I got a copy. 

I've known Sam Viviano, MAD's art director, for 30 years, since we were in a cartoonist rock band together, comprised of big-time NY illustrators like Mark Alan Stamaty, Lou Brooks and Elwood Smith, it was called Ben Day and the Zipatones.

Jim Lujan was in town from L.A. to work on the editing of "Revengeance", and he'd met Sam at San Diego Comic-Con, and Sam told him to come by for a tour, if he was ever in NYC.  And then I found out my office manager, John, has been reading MAD since he was a kid, too.  I guess maybe this explains a lot about how people who appreciate the magazine's twisted sense of humor at a young age end up working in the cartoon business in some way. 

In any case, Sam was kind enough to invite Jim Lujan and me to the NYC offices of MAD magazine, and John tagged along to take our photos.  We got to meet MAD's editor, John Ficcara, and together they gave us a first-class, deluxe tour of their offices.  Quite frankly, I was surprised by how organized and normal their offices were.  I expected a floor filled with crazy people doing crazy things. 

                                  Sam Viviano, hard at work at his desk.  I hated to wake him...

                                                 Me and Jim Lujan with Sam Viviano

                                                 With John Ficcara, MAD's editor-in-chief

                                       There were display cases full of MAD memorabilia -

                             And an board with sketches from some of MAD's great artists.
                                 
                          "Celebrity Snaps" - photos of famous people holding MAD magazines

                                           The "Alfred", MAD's spoof of the Oscar award

                                          We got free hats, and a copy of the latest issue!

In any case, I had a very great time and learned a lot about the great artists of MAD over the years - Don Martin, Sergio Aragones and their famous trips to Europe.  Plus, I got a free magazine and a lot of other cool stuff. 

Thank you, Sam! 

--Bill Plympton

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