Country: Great Britain
In 1988 I was still living in my hometown of Dundee, Scotland. I had grown up a comic-fan and collector (predominantly Marvel’s superhero comics line) and being a keen artist had always dreamed of making it as a comic illustrator.
For the previous 4 years I had been working at D C Thomson & Co, Britain’s biggest publisher of comics & newspapers, which, conveniently, had its base in Dundee. I worked as a junior staff artist there, mostly correcting other people’s artwork or resizing comic pages, with the occasional spot of original illustration now & then. Whilst there a cartoonist colleague introduced me to Mad Magazine – or rather reintroduced me - I had picked up the occasional issue as a child but had never really “got” it, being more interested in spandex-clad super-beings. Anyway, I quickly realised what an incredible roster of talented artists Mad boasted and thoroughly enjoyed reading all the back-issues that my colleague brought in to show me. Mad showcased a veritable treasure trove of fantastic art by many of America’s (indeed the world’s) top-cartoonists and I especially loved the full-colour painted covers. This was an era when Rickard, Davis, Drucker and others still produced the odd cover but I was mostly blown away by the incredible Richard Williams, who painted like a twisted Norman Rockwell.
Inspired, I started producing my own Mad covers just for fun, working in acrylics in the hope that somehow I too could produce work of Williams’ standard! At some point in the autumn of 1988 my mother suggested I submit colour copies to UK Mad’s office down in London – a crazy idea in my mind but she was right, what did I have to lose?
In early 1989 I moved down to London to work as a freelance illustrator, having become fed up of altering other people’s work back at D C Thomson. Very soon after arriving in London, I was contacted by UK Mad’s editor Ron Letchford who asked if he could use one of my paintings as a cover for an upcoming issue of Mad! After picking myself up off the floor I agreed and my first Mad cover duly appeared on the stands in March of 1988. It turned out that UK Mad came out on a monthly basis whereas the US edition (source of the UK edition’s material) only came out 8 times a year. This left a shortfall of covers and the occasional article that Ron would commission local illustrators to fill. Hence my “big-‐break”!
I was actually quite horrified when my first Mad cover appeared in print as I realised it wasn’t anywhere near the standard of the American contributors and to make matters worse I hadn’t captured Alfred E. Neuman’s uniquely cockeyed visage… I was convinced I’d done my one and only cover for Mad but Ron called me with a new commission a couple of months later and this time I produced a cover I was happy with. Over the next 4 years I painted 18 cover illustrations plus various interior features until I moved to Stockholm, Sweden. This was pre-Internet, so I never heard from Ron again and sadly Mad UK folded in 1994 due to poor sales.
Meanwhile Swedish Mad published its last issue in 1993, just as I moved there! Not a great start to my freelance career in Sweden but in 1997 Swedish Mad was resurrected and commissioned several black & white illustrations from me, including a 4 page strip satirising “Sikta Mot Stjärnorna” (“Aim for the Stars”), a popular Swedish TV talent show.
The new Swedish Mad folded in 2000.
written by Maurice Mechan for MADtrash.com
Contributions by Maurice Mechan
MAD Magazine #324 April 1989
MAD Magazine #328 August 1989
MAD Magazine #331 November 1989
MAD Magazine #334 February 1980
MAD Magazine #340 August 1990
MAD Magazine #343 November 1990
MAD Magazine #345 January 1991
MAD Magazine #348 April 1991
MAD Magazine #350 June 1991
MAD Magazine #352 August 1991
MAD Magazine #355 November 1991
MAD Magazine #363 July 1992
MAD Magazine #366 August 1992
MAD Magazine #368 December 1992
MAD Magazine #369 January 1993
MAD Magazine #372 April 1993
Last updated on 25th August 2015 6:32 pm