Mad Magazine has fallen off the mainstream public radar for the last few years, but there was a time when the publication was considered the zenith of pop culture satire. And one of the leading lights of the magazine was Mort Drucker, whose parodies of the latest movies and tv shows were a highlight for fans.
The caricature artist passed away at his home in Woodbury, Long Island on Wednesday, at the age of 91, with the cause of death currently unknown. His passing was marked on social media by fans and colleagues, including the National Cartoonists Society, which tweeted.
"The incomparable Mort Drucker passed away last night. The World has lost a not just an extraordinary talent but a shining example of kindness, humility and humor. He was recognized for his work with the NCS Special Features Award, Reuben Award and induction into the Hall of Fame."
News of Drucker's passing prompted a deluge of tributes on Twitter, with fans sharing their favorite panels from the cartoonist's work over a career spanning more than five decades.
Drucker was born in Brooklyn and got his start at Mad Magazine in 1956. There, he quickly made a name for himself as an artist who could pack a world of meaning into the briefest of panels. Drucker's stellar reputation led to his services being used on a number of magazines, album covers, and even movie posters, like George Lucas's first big-budget production American Graffiti.
But despite the wide range of his work, Drucker will forever be known as a parodist and a pop culture icon right alongside the likes of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for his work with Mad Magazine. Starting in the '60s, Mad featured parodies of current popular movies and shows in a comic-paneled format. Those panels featured caricatures of characters in Drucker's trademark style.
At first, movie studios were affronted by the spoofs and their less-than-flattering depictions of their stars, so much so that they went out of their way to make sure none of the promotional material for their productions would end up in the hands of Mad. But as the magazine's popularity grew, it came to be seen as a point of pride to be parodied in Drucker's distinct style.
The cartoonist was with the magazine in its heyday, and into its twilight years in the late 2010s, which saw Mad dealing with a steadily declining readership. The internet was quickly becoming the new source of satire and parodies for a global audience, and the magazine was struggling to adapt to the new humor landscape where its once-edgy style of satire was now being seen as quaint and old-fashioned.
Drucker's work has found references in many movies and shows, and his style of drawing has been cited as a major source of inspiration by artists the world over. The coming days will no doubt see an even greater number of his fans sharing their favorite Drucker parodies on social media in memory of one of the greatest satirists of the 21st century. This news comes from Deadline.