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!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Yeah, another blog...

I was talking with some friends at work last week about how often we produce work that goes largely unseen, unpublished, strictly for fun or just never comes to light for one reason or another. I suggested we start a group blog to put up some of this ad hoc stuff and they agreed. The thing all this artwork shares in common is that for one reason or other, it wasn't part of the usual professional output, or in other words it was: "Stuff I Didn't Get Money For"...

Carolyn Gair is first up, with one of the many delightful self-published books she has done for family members (pictured at right).


Soon to follow, more delightful cast-offs from Keith Baxter and yours truly...