Monday, July 29, 2013

The DAVE BERG Anthology

The massive book, "Mad's Greatest Artists: Dave Berg-Five Decades of The Lighter Side" from Running Press books, features a foreword and a portrait of Dave Berg by yours truly.
Dave Berg, 1960's

The lavish, oversized hardcover collection of over 40 years of Dave Berg's "The Lighter Side of" work for MAD magazine and much more, is 
is 100% Kaputnik-Approved!

 Order here...

My portrait of Dave Berg, who began his career as a comic book artist in the early
1940's. The portrait will also be included in my upcoming book "Heroes of the Comics":

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jack Davis's Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

In anticipation of the 50th anniversary coming up in Nov...

In 1963, the cartoonist/comics artist/humorous illustrator Jack Davis was hired by United Artists to create the poster art for the Stanley Kramer all-star comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Jack Davis had drawn several movie posters prior to being hired for MMMMW, but this one was huge, the film becoming a blockbuster, and forever established him as the king of comedy film posters. When Fantagraphics' Gary Groth and I interviewed Jack in 2011 at the Brooklyn Comics festival he confirmed that this was the assignment that forever changed the course of his career, it was the game changer.
with the  great Jack
Davis in Nov 2011
(photo by Ryan Flanders)

Jack Davis became the go to guy, the most in-demand artist of comedy film posters throughout the sixties and seventies, arguably the most successful and popular film poster artist of all time, and undoubtedly, the master of the chaotic, over- crowded crowd scene. The film has also had an afterlife for Jack Davis. He'd create several variations of the poster over the years, as well as the wraparound art for the LP album, and several other fun spinoffs...

The original film poster

B&W version used for the film's press book and newspaper ads

click to enlarge

another version of the poster

an ad for the film's LA premiere

ad for the NY premiere

larger look at the B&W version

cover to the LP album

the front & back covers

Click to enlarge

sheet music

a display for record stores

a later poster variation created for the film's re-release in 1970

a German poster

later newspaper ad

TV Guide ad for the film's first TV airing

an early video cover

Soundtrack CD

Jack Davis created this later cover piece for the RCA Videodisc release in 1983:

Jonathan Winters who co-starred in the film, had Davis create this cover parody of
his film poster for this 1964 album cover

in 1964, Jack Davis, who hadn't done work for MAD magazine in nearly
 a decade, made his triumphant return by parodying the very poster he created for this
wraparound MAD paperback

And his most recent images created for the Criterion release:

Jack Davis's recent career anthology from Fantagraphics, using his
 "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" poster art on the cover

thanks to Ed Edo Dennis & Stephen Kroninger

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Great Moments of Comedy LP Covers

In 1964, someone at Verve records had the brilliant idea of releasing comedy LP records by popular contemporary comedians and not featuring the comic's faces on the covers. Instead, the covers depicted laughing, guffawing, shrieking, head-slapping, nose-squinching, all-American, (white), couples, (actors, or Verve employees?), all with their eyes squeezed tight,  all pretending to be enjoying comedy LP's.

Some appear to be suffering from severe migraine headaches, several look like they're actually weeping or in pain, and one guy looks like he's literally about to throw up. The guy on the cover of the Jackie Mason album looks like the last guy you'd expect to enjoy Jackie Mason's brand of comedy.

 Here are all the delightful results:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

HAIL CAESAR! A tribute to Kim Thompson

My tribute to the late, great Kim Thompson, co-founder and publisher/editor of Fantagraphics books,  written for The Comics Journal (see more tributes to Kim from various comic artist greats below):
According to Kim Thompson, I had the honor of (indirectly) giving him what he told me was “the most thrilling moment of his career.”
Kim was the brilliant editor of my last six books for Fantagraphics, including my three books of portraiture depicting “Old Jewish Comedians” (designed by Monte Beauchamp). The only running text in the books was the comedians’ actual Jewish names, along with their showbiz names (for example: Benjamin Kubelsky/Jack Benny). My wife Kathy and I diligently researched the original names using various sources, mainly comedy history books and via the web. When the first book was released in late 2006, Fantagraphics sent out several copies to some of the (still living) comedians who were included, among them Mickey Freeman, Freddie Roman, and Jerry Lewis. All three aged comics instantly called me directly to tell me they were absolutely thrilled with being in the book, so much so that they arranged for a Friars Club book party to celebrate its release.
Shortly after the Friars party I received a call from a giddy Kim Thompson, his upbeat voice far from his usual steady monotone. He had just gotten off the phone with one of his all-time heroes, none other than the legendary comedian Sid Caesar of Your Show of Shows fame, now 84. Caesar had placed a call to Fantagraphics and their secretary instantly transferred the call to Kim. It soon became clear that Sid Caesar was not at all happy. Why? Because his “real” name was listed as Isaac Sidney Caesar.
Sid Caesar,
not happy

At the time, every Sid Caesar tribute site, including Wikipedia, claimed his real name was indeed “Isaac”. He claimed it was not. He proceeded to rant, rave and kvetch into the phone at Kim for a good twenty minutes or so, as if Kim was directly responsible for this insult, even launching into faux German/Yiddish double-talk to overly-emphasize his points (“Vot’s Vit You?? You ish a DUMMKOPF!!”). Kim was in heaven, Caesared the moment and basically sat back and let Sid Caesar perform his special brand of (angry) schtick. The more Caesar carried on, the more Kim laughed, and Caesar seemed content because he had a clearly receptive audience of one all to himself, even if it was someone who published a book that infuriated him. They somehow established a brief phone-bond, a performer pleasing his audience. He continued his raving until he eventually became exhausted and finally banged down the phone.

Kim Thompson,
shaken, but happy
Kim immediately called me to relate what had just transpired and told me that although he was a bit shaken, it was the most thrilling moment of his entire career AND the best part of having just turning fifty. He asked if I wanted Sid’s phone number so I could also enjoy the experience of being reamed out in Yiddish by a comedy legend but I declined the offer. I was content with living vicariously through Kim’s experience. Finally, Kim, always the level-headed editor, summed things up: “Well, I guess this means we won’t be able to get him to write a foreword to one of our Peanuts books. Oh well! Ha!”

More tributes to Kim Thompson:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Martin Goodman pencil sketch

Martin Goodman (1908-1992) was the legendary, elusive publisher of magazines, paperbacks and comic books. Under his parent company Magazine Management, his vast empire of magazines ran the gamut ranging from pulps, true crime, romance, humor, puzzles, movies/celebrities, cheesecake photos, and most notably men's adventure magazines which is where my father worked as an editor from 1954-1966 along side among others, Mario Puzo. Goodman is mostly remembered today for helping to launch the "golden age of comics", publishing a comic book line known first as Timely, then Atlas, and eventually Marvel comics. 

This is my (imagined) pencil portrait of the rarely photographed Martin Goodman at Magazine Management in 1956, proofing several of the latest covers for Atlas comics. The finished color painted piece will be included in my upcoming book of portraits depicting the pioneering legends of American comic books, to be published by Fantagraphics Books in 2014.

Publisher Martin Goodman, 1956
"The Martin Goodman Story" published by Goodman in 1947

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ziggy Gruber, Texas "Deli Man"

Ziggy Gruber
This is my portrait of Ziggy Gruber, the chef/owner of Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen in Houston, Texas. The art was created for for Pakn Treger, the magazine of the Yiddish Book Center, art-directed by Alexander Isley
"Deli Man", art direction by Alexander Isley

Steven Heller on the design of Pakn Treger for The Atlantic: