Thursday, August 16, 2007

Don Martin, not just for MAD ...Science Fiction and Jazz Art!?! (link:) (re-post, with additions)

NOTE: I originally posted this back in April of '07, after getting all excited upon seeing a beautiful
Don Martin-related entry over at Datajunkie.

I wanted to include a couple of images from an interview with Martin that ran in the first issue of 'HONK!' magazine in 1986.
I knew that I a owned a copy, but was mightily frustrated when I couldn't find it.
So I proceeded without it.

Of it's own accord, the magazine finally turned up yesterday.

Here's the piece again, with a few more images and re-tooled to look a bit closer to what I'd intended...


(Photograph by
Norma Haimes Martin, from the 'Honk!' interview, 1986) ▶

The unique artwork of Don Martin (1931 - 2000) first began appearing in the pages of MAD magazine in 1956.

By 1964, his cartooning style had settled into the familiar look most of us remember oh-so well.

But his earlier work had a slightly harder, more angular look to it.
It's a style that shows up in his earliest MAD pages, and was also found in the jazz LP covers he produced in the 1950's
(see below).

I've long sought out more examples of that earlier style, with little luck.

The Don Martin magazine interview I've mentioned was conducted by comics writer
Mark Waid, and appeared in the first issue of Fantagraphics' 'HONK!', back in 1986.

There were just a couple of tantalizing examples of Martin's early work offered there, including a small black-and-white image of a painting he did in 1951, while enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. ▶

▼ (Illustration from Metronome Magazine, 1955, as reprinted in the 'Honk!' interview, 1986)

Recently I was overjoyed to stumble upon some online images of Don Martin's late 1950's work for classic science-fiction magazines like Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Galaxy. ▼ ▶

I'd known he'd done some illustration work, but didn't know how much existed.

PLEASE direct your attention to Datajunkie's blog to check out this super-cool post:
Don Martin...Science Fiction Artist!?!
(click on link)

What a trove!! More! More!

(Click on album cover images to ENLARGE on a new page)

Y'know, if you poke around the web, you'll find just a bit of info about Don Martin's years with MAD and a few examples of that art, but not much else.
It's a shame, sez I.

Does anyone know - - Have there been any retrospectives of Martin's artwork?

Isn't it about time for a nice career-spanning coffee-table book?
Am I alone in my nerdly ranting?

Apparently not.
As of this writing, there's an enormous and spiffy (and pricey) 'deluxe' two-volume slipcased hardcover book set, 'The Completely Mad Don Martin' set for release in October.

It's an exhaustive chronological collection of every piece of artwork he created for MAD magazine during his 30-year stint there.

It sounds pretty wonderful, but it also rings a small, distant sour note somehow, knowing that Martin had left the magazine on bad terms in 1987.

There was a disagreement regarding his royalties for the several paperback books he created for MAD over the years.

I'll assume that material won't be reprinted in this set.

The big prestigious MAD coffee-table set comes close to what I'd want to see, but not quite.

I dearly LOVE his MAD work, but it doesn't hold too many surprises at this point, y'know?

I'm desiring to see more of the rarer, 'unseen' Don Martin collected.
Aren't you...?

Maybe if this new book is successful, it'll spur such a book into being.
I'd love to think there's enough material to fill it.

If you can point me to more examples of the type of stuff I'm describing (Pre-, Post-, other than- MAD) or supply more info as to what exists - - Golly gosh, but I'd sure appreciate it.

Comment on this post, or hit my e-mail link in the sidebar. Thanks!

(ADDENDUM, 4.14.08; Scan of 'The Brothers' LP cover added)

(Click on album cover images to ENLARGE on a new page)


Ed - The Music Man said...

Thanks for this. Reminds me I have to talk more about the once and great Metronome Magazine on my blog. I am just featuring a CD of the All-Stars and have had wonderful feedback. Ed - The Music Man

Anonymous said...

Re: Don Martin.

Martin's feud with MAD Magazine specifically involved reprints of old cartoons that were used in paperback compilations straight from the magazine (i.e. "Son of Mad"). Martin figured he should have been paid a royalty for the re-use of those cartoons. Bill Gaines (the publisher) disagreed.

Martin got back (sort of) by collaborating with several gag writers to do his own series of books, starting with "Don Martin Steps Out."

For these, Martin had an interesting role-reversal: HE owned the drawings, and got MAD magazine on its hands and knees, begging to put its name on a Don Martin production. MAD grudgingly split the proceeds.

Naturally, this kind of business stress affected Martin's output, to the point where he needed help to write gags. Even worse, some kind of eye disease (which I have yet to identify) was slowly blinding him, making his job damned near impossible. (Though it does explain his "optometry" gags.)

I don't know what ultimately caused him to quit MAD in a huff (1987), but it was right about that time that MAD magazine tanked anyway. The only one of the original "Gang of Idiots" still around is Al Jaffee.

It just isn't the same.

Unknown said...

In the 60's, we lived several doors down from John Putnam, the art director at MADD. My brother was 12 and buddies with his sons. My brother had the great privilege of meeting all the artists from MADD at a party at the Putnam's house. Don Martin was one of my favorite artists. The 60's were the best times of MADD and I was an avid reader.

Potter Zebby said...

Besides Al Jaffee, 1950s guys Mort Drucker and Frank Jacobs are still MAD contributors. So are the only slightly more junior Sergio Aragones, Paul Coker, Arnie Kogen and Dick DeBartolo, who all hail from the early/mid-1960s.

wbhist said...

Post-Prestige and past his joining MAD, Martin only did one known artwork for the record industry - and wouldn't you know it, it was MAD-related:
- Alfred E. Neuman And His Furshlugginer Five - What – Me Worry? (ABC-Paramount 45-10013, 1959)
Done in his pre-1964 "angular" style.

Any other record covers or 45 picture sleeves with figures that look like Martin's style, were not Martin (to paraphrase the 1970's Broadway musical Beatlemania) but incredible simulations:
- The Fenderbenders - Six Days On The Road No. 2 (Agar AG-4507, 1963)
In the comments section, guitarist Jimmy Colvard wrote that a friend of the vocalist and lyric parody writer Sherwin Linton had done the artwork for the picture sleeve (with the heads and faces looking more like they would in Martin's artwork from c.1964 onwards) - prompting MAD to file a cease-and-desist order which led to many records being recalled, and offering to provide artwork done by them (meaning, presumably, Martin himself) for a fee. Seeing it, I thought Martin would have done a better job and the label and/or group should have paid the fee.
- Bog Ugly - Disco Veteran (Toadstool GOOD 2, 1978)
How this one escaped MAD's notice is beyond me. But had "MAD's Maddest Artist" done that one, his 'D.MARTiN...' signature would have been at bottom right.

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