From Publishers Weekly
About the shape and weight of a telephone directory, this book has room enough to live up to its subtitle-and more. It begins with legendary cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman and his creation of Mad as a humor comic book in 1952 and continues to the present, artist by artist. Early artists tend to get more space because they helped create the magazine's style and also because some of them have continued to contribute drawings for decades. Jack Davis and Mort Drucker, for example, are each allotted eight pages, enough for an irreverent but affectionate biographical write-up and a variety of art samples. Lesser, later artists get a paragraph and one panel. Along the way, Evanier gives a lot of background information about the comics industry and about the process by which Mad has been produced. In short, this is a book for people who are curious about individual artists, the history of Mad magazine or comics as a business. Mad's success for half a century shows it has mastered the knack of laughing with its targets while laughing at them. Indeed, many of the celebrities the magazine has skewered over the years have felt flattered to find themselves the subjects of Mad caricatures. It helps that so much of the magazine focuses on relatively nonthreatening subjects, such as popular culture and suburbia. The only political commentary cutting enough to draw blood is on Ronald Reagan. But clearly the Mad staff knows what it's doing and has been doing it extremely well.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Mad magazine has been corrupting young minds, in a good way, for half a century. As befits the institution it has become, it receives the coffee-table-book treatment with comics historian Evanier's showcase of the artists who have been Mad
mainstays over the years. Evanier profiles the unusual members of "the usual gang of idiots" (as the masthead has long called them), of whom the most prominent include cartoonists Jack Davis and Will Elder, with Mad
from the beginning; such second-generation stars as master caricaturist Mort Drucker and "Mad
's maddest artist," Don Martin, whose baggy-faced as well as -pantsed style virtually defined Mad
during its heyday; and talented relative newcomers Drew Friedman and Peter Kuper. Each profile accompanies well-chosen samplings of the artist's work, and Evanier continues his sprightly, informative commentary in additional chapters on Mad
's early days, the gestation of a Mad
feature, and other matters. A nostalgic treat for boomers as well as a revealing look at Mad
today. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved