Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Life with MAD Magazine, Don Martin, Sergio Aragones & Antonio Prohías

Apparently, Fans of MAD Magazine, of whom I consider myself one, never forget the first edition of the magazine they encounter.  Well I can’t remember the first issue I came into contact with...

Before I’m accused of being not a true fan of the Magazine, let me explain why.  My first encounter with the usual gang of idiots came not through the Magazine, but the Paperbacks.  Whilst walking through a market in Devon, England, during the summer of 1984, I came across  “Burning MAD” & “MAD in orbit”.  These two books would cement my love for this Iconic piece of American Humor...

After purchasing these two books,  I went through a stage of finding numerous MAD paperbacks,  that it has completely slipped my mind when I must have thought, “Hey you enjoy these,  why not try the magazine.”

Three names really stick out when remembering these early purchases:

Sergio Aragones – Brilliant Pantomime Humour,  Wordless delights that highlight the Gentle Humour of being Human...  One of the first I remember is the MAD Look at Motorcycle Cops, where a Police Officer approaches a Car driven by a Formidable looking Woman...  Thinking better of it,  The Officer then approaches the other side to harangue her more timid looking, but obviously not driving Husband...  Sergio still writes for MAD today and also has other projects,  I’d seriously recommend checking out FANBOY,  a Comic series he did with Mark Evanier...  Further details  about him can be found at http://www.sergioaragones.com

Antonio Prohías – I Loved Spy Vs Spy,  I was too young to understand the Cold War content,  I just loved the hilarious ways the White and Black Spy’s would try and eliminate each other with their over-elaborate Booby-Traps...  Further details here:  http://www.spyvsspyhq.com/

Don Martin – My favourite was definitely The King of Onomatopoeia, Mr Don Martin.  No one epitomized MAD’s dedication to Visual Humor more than this, apparently, Quiet and Shy man from Patterson, New Jersey.   Although his strips invariably relied on Slapstick or Wordplay for the punchline, The anatomically challenged individuals he drew, with their Bulbous noses, Hinged Feet and elongated Limbs and fingers, drew (Pun intended) the readers in because they looked so bizarre and funny...  Like Sergio and Antonio, Don’s Cartoons could be wordless, (Except for the aforementioned Onomatopoeia) and are a delight to revisit again and again. One of my favourite Strips from the early paperbacks I encountered,  was the tale of a man on a bus who steals the seat of what looks like a frail old lady,  this lady then gets angry and twists this man’s head round... what follows is two fellow passengers twisting his head round constantly as they don’t like him staring at them,  one passenger takes pity on the man, but unfortunately it ends with him spinning out of the bus like a helicopter... Unfortunately my description of it does little justice to the humour and I’ve been unable to find a copy of it on the net or anywhere else.

Unfortunately the paperbacks and the magazine I owned have all bitten the dust,  fortunately Sergio Aragones work is still included in MAD and ‘Spy vs Spy’ is still there but not written by Antonio Prohías, (Who died in 1998,  Don Martin Died in 2000)  Luckily many of the old strips are available in new Books being released,  like the one  in the picture below.



This book contains many of the strips I remember and some new ones too...  Unfortunately not the one on the bus mentioned earlier.

Thank you Sergio,  Antonio & Don,  without you all I may not be the Visual Humorist I like to think I am today...