I was saddened to learn this morning that cartooning legend, Mort Drucker has passed away at 91.
I grew up loving Mort’s brilliant artwork in Mad Magazine and he was a great influence on my own work. I think Mort was the greatest caricature artist ever. Mort drew the best and most memorable Mad Magazine movie and tv parodies.
I got to know Mort through the National Cartoonists Society. Other cartoonists would trail after him and ask him to draw their portrait, to which Mort would always respond to draw the backs of their heads –that was easier, and quick, and it looked just like them. Mort was a gentleman. I also like that he called everyone “darling.”
Mort was a staple in advertising and magazines, not just in Mad Magazine. He drew tons of magazine covers, advertising and movie posters, including the iconic poster for American Graffiti. I loved his work in black and white, but his color was fantastic. Mort painted over his ink linework with Dr. Martin’s Dyes, a difficult medium that I could never wrap my head around, but it made his colors glow.
Here’s a nice 13 year old post from my friend, Tom Richmond, who followed Mort, filling his big shoes doing movie parodies for Mad.
This piece from Lambiek Encyclopedia gives a nice overview of Mort’s career.
The video below comes from the National Cartoonists Society. It shows Mort interviewed by John Reiner (a great guy who is a brilliant caricature artist himself).
This piece is the front cover of Mort’s book, “Mad About the Movies” …
A fond memory of Mort who drew many Star Wars parodies …
Mort did lots of advertising work. The odd map (below), of how to get to the Mortgage Bankers Association convention in Atlantic City, was a strange journey for me. The ad agency had hired Mort Drucker to do it, and Mort quit after doing the sketch. The job paid pretty well, and Mort’s sketch was nice, so I gave him a call and asked, “What’s up with this job?” I paraphrase from my 30 year old memory – Mort told me this was a job from hell, and the art directors had so many changes he couldn’t stand it any more.” I asked if he minded that I take the job and work from his sketch, and Mort was fine with that, as long as he never had to hear from those art directors again. So I rendered this brochure artwork from Mort’s lovely, rough sketch. And the art directors from hell didn’t give me any trouble – I think Mort wore them down before I stepped in.
If I was an art director, I would never think of asking Mort Drucker to make changes.
Twenty years later, in 2008, the mortgage bankers would destroy the economy – oh! The irony!
Mort is my hero. He taught a generation how to draw. His inspiration lives on.