Posts Tagged ‘Mad Magazine’

I’ve been pretty busy as of late so there are some websites that I like to check out regularly that I haven’t visited recently.  One of my favorites is Candler Arts, a site out of the Atlanta area that features American folk art, oddities and eccentricities.  Along with their accompanying blog, they always have something that really is quite interesting and often quite beautiful as well.  I finally stopped in yesterday and found a couple of folk paintings that really clicked with me.

The one above is signed by a Laura Doyle, a name that I couldn’t find anything about with a quick check.  This piece really has a certain sense of rightness and rhythm, one that really captures my fancy.  I like the depth into the picture frame that the moon and horizon create here.  The bony trees and gray skies make it feel like a darker, colder version of the Peanuts comic strip’s world.  It really works.  Someone recognized this as it has sold.

The other painting is this piece from the 1890’s of a young man with a huge slice of watermelon.  It’s not a great painting but it has a certain flair in the way the boy’s grinning face is painted .  He reminds me a bit of Alfred E. Neuman, the mascot of Mad Magazine.  With the preoccupation of that big slab of melon I can imagine him uttering Neuman’s  “What? Me worry?” catchphrase with ease.  Just kind of a neat piece.  Still available for sale, too.

Check out Candler Art or their blog sometime.  There’s always something to pique your interest.

Now, back to work.

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Alfred E. NeumanOne of the great things about the internet  is being able to, with a few clicks, come across things and images that have been stored away in your memory for a very long time.  The characters that lived so vividly with you as kid come back to life the second you see them, taking you back to specific memories associated with them.  For me, many are cartoon characters and other highly visual creations, all influencing my eye.  I probably shouldn’t be admitting that. 

Maybe it’s simple nostalgia but there’s something kind of comforting in seeing these icons from your past for just a moment just to know they’re still there.  Many have never left, such as the eternally grinning Alfred E. Neuman from  Mad Magazine or the icon of all kid icons, Snoopy,whokid snoopy_cool holds a special place in my memory.  Snoopy was the first thing I really learned to draw well.  A kid on my school bus, Tom  Hillman, who was a couple of years older and a drawing whiz, showed me the basics of how Snoopy was put together with a few simple circles and ovals and a curved line here and there.  It seemed like magic and I was hooked.  I drew Snoopy everywhere.  I particularly liked drawing him when he was in the character of one of his alter egos such as the World War I pilot battling the Red Baron, or Joe Cool who was definitely the Big Man on Campus.

Spy Vs. SpyMad Magazine also provided a wide variety of other imagery from the their wonderful parodies of current TV shows and movies to their great back covers that you had to carefully fold to reveal it’s true content to the regular strips such as Spy Vs. Spy, with its Cold War characters trying to off one another in every issue.

Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was in his heyday in my youth and his Rat Fink kid ratfink_logo_smcharacter was the hero of young boys everywhere.  There was a sense of anarchy  and chaos in his drawings that really appealed to kids in the 60’s.  I think every kid wanted to sit in one of his crazy hot rods for just a minute and feel the tires screeching and the heat from the flames blowing out the side pipes.

There are so many more images I could show.  Great cartoon characters.  Great characters from kid books.  Advertising icons.  All littering my memory and still living somewhere on the web.  If you want to just look…

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The CreeperThe Creeper is another of the Exiles series although he is an anomaly in the series.  He does not mirror the sense of loss or suffering of the other pieces.  He is not the mournful exile.

He is the menace of dark dreams. He is always there, looming halfway in the bedroom window.  

But, while he is a little scary, there is a bit of whimsy in his appearance.  He is more cartoonish than the others.  When I look at this face I am constantly reminded of the movie parodies from the beloved  Mad magazine of my youth, with their Mad Magazine Godfather Parodyoversized, caricatured faces.  This softens the whole feel of the piece for me and makes him less terrifying.

Now, whether someone without that same frame of reference will see him in the same way is another question.  Without that reference, maybe he is as creepy as his name.

For me, The Creeper  always brings back the memory of a young friend who loved this painting and truly identified with everything about it.  He saw the humor but felt the darkness of it as well.  He was a vibrant, whirlwind of energy  who knew well about the personal demons so depicted in this painting.  He was a tortured personality and took his own life several years ago.  For him, The Creeper was all too real.

This one’s for you, Scott…

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