Don Martin Dept.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 Horrorthon Posts

The drawing above is the very first panel of the very first Mad magazine strip cartoon by Don Martin (1931-2000), “Mad‘s Maddest Artist.” For those of you who are familiar with Mad and with Martin, you’ll notice that the style of this image (from Mad‘s 29th issue, published September 1956) is noticeably different from the trademark “hinge-foot” formula he perfected much later on. In fact, the early Don Martin stuff is very, very strange compared to the toned-down work he ended up doing for the bulk of his career. It’s, well, evil. (There’s no other way to put it.) In fact, notwithstanding the beautifully-executed drawings and the fascinating early drafting style, it’s downright horrifying..which makes it a perfect topic for you guys.

Ten years ago I bought the CD-ROM collection of Mad Magazine (a 7-disc set that collects the entire run of the magazine through 1998 into a complete searchable library). Anyway, drawing on the thousands of pages in that collection, I’ve assembled a gallery of 32 of the early, extremely evil Don Martin cartoons from the 1950s, because I’m amazed at how beautiful and evil and nasty they are (compared to the toothless stuff he was doing later, in the ‘Seventies, when I first encountered his work). A lot of the way-early Mad stuff was collected into those ubiquitous paperbacks that were all over the place back then, and I remember seeing early Don Martin stuff that actually gave me nightmares. Anyway, enjoy! (My favorite’s “The Suicide.”)