Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mort's MAD Mostel Montage

Here's a sampling of Mort Drucker's brilliant caricatures of Zero Mostel in MAD MAGAZINE's 1973 parody of "FIDDLER ON THE ROOF." This was a unique take on the MAD movie parody because they did not satirize the actual film of "FIDDLER", but instead used the songs and template to send up the neurotic petite-bourgeouis problems of a modern upper middle class family vs. the hardships of their poorer-but-wiser Russian-Jewish ancestors. It's more of a social satire than a film parody.

This unique approach called for some creative casting: the awe-inspiring Zero Mostel had played the lead on stage but had been frozen out of the movie (as was bafflingly typical of the time) where his role was taken over by an actor named Topol. Given the license MAD was taking already with the material, they took the laudable liberty of bringing Mostel back to the central role, although the surrounding characters (with the notable exception of a cameo by Woody Allen and the whole cast of the movie version at the end) are all Mort Drucker's inspired and unique inventions (as far as I can tell anyway). These are all remarkably well drawn but I will leave you to track down the original to check them out. Here I wanted to focus on Mort Drucker's gob-smackingly beautiful draftsmanship in rendering Zero's many moods and faces with his commanding talent. To think this was long before video reference is amazing. Even using still photos for reference (as he likely did), these are not merely excellent cribs, but each and every drawing is customized and "animated" to the exact point in the script of the original text. I love that he not only captures the man's broadness but also his wonderfully nuanced "passive" expressions with equal perfection. There's nothing forced or off-balance or intrusive ever going on... By the time you've turned the last page, it's clear that there is not a single attitude, pose or expression Drucker couldn't render with utter mastery and complete fidelity to the subject. That he does this with as mercurial an actor as Zero Mostel is astounding. What is even more astounding is that it is typical of Drucker's treatment of every single subject he's ever taken on. Mort + MAD + Mostel = MAGIC!


Mick said...

when I was a child I would just stare at those strips and wonder how the hell they did them so perfectly... tip top cartooning

Patrick said...

Thank you for this Will!!.What a amazing Draughtsman.Beautiful beautiful caricature of Mr Zero Mostel

Pete Emslie said...

MAD Magazine was certainly a big part of my own misspent youth, and I always read the movie satires first, poring over the great Mort Drucker art and trying to figure out how he did it. Like you, I couldn't imagine how he was able to draw an actor's likeness in so many various views and expressions with what had to be somewhat limited reference material being available, all the while keeping it caricatured and, as you say, "animated".

I'd have to dig out the complete copy of "Fiddler Made a Goof" from my dusty pile of MADs to check out the supporting cast in this satire, but I believe that Zero's wife is meant to be Imogene Coca from Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows".

Will Finn said...

Pete, could be Coca, hadn't thought of that. It also may be a caricature of the stage actress from the show also. The daughters, (who are all very sexy Drucker babes) seem to be wholly invented...

Thanks Mick and Patrick for checking this out. The original is huge so click on it to see it in all it's triple digit pixel glory.

Munchanka said...

Mort Drucker is the man! Thanks for sharing!

Gwynn.D.Earl said...

That's mad..

Don't know if this would be any interest to you:

What's NEW from
BAD-EYE-DEERS animations


mikehoffman said...

I'd much rather try caricaturing someone like Zero Mostel than say William Shatner, who's instantly recognizable but is hardly ever drawn convincingly.

Come to think of it, I think Drucker probably got Kirk the best, albeit goofy.