Jewish-American cartoonist Mort Drucker passed away on Thursday night in his home in Woodbury, NY. He was 91 years old and much admired for his 50 years of work in the field of cartoons and illustrations, mostly for MAD magazine.John Reiner, a friend and fellow cartoonist told CNN that during their last phone conversation, Drucker said that he feels as if he is “the luckiest man” as he had “a wonderful life.”
CNN reporter Jake Tapper reported that the cause of death had not been the novel coronavirus. Tapper was a great fan of Drucker and shared some original art by him that he had bought on social media.
One last note on Mort Drucker, who died last night. I recently bought an original from a 1961 MAD and sent it to Mort’s friend John Reiner to show him. Mort shared some of the research material he used – you can see the expressions on the woman's face in the first three panels. pic.twitter.com/O6W7xDjjOn— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 10, 2020
Born in 1929, Drucker began working in comics at the age of 18 after he got a recommendation from Will Eisner, another Jewish-American comic book legend. He began working for MAD magazine in 1956, quickly developing his unique artistic range which often covered parodies, television and movies. Drucker was such a massive hit that he was printed in almost every issue for his 55-year career there.
MAD magazine had a unique influence on American pop culture and cartoons, since it very much expressed and shaped a way of looking at the world that was highly original and iconoclastic at the time. Among the iconic strips it featured were Spy vs Spy by Cuban-American artist Antonio Prohías and the fictional character of Alfred E. Neuman with his catchphrase “What, me worry?”
One of the novel things about MAD was how it dared to poke fun at Hollywood and television, something Drucker became famous for. So much so that when the magazine ran a parody by him of the Star Wars films, it was only a fan letter by director George Lucas that saved the publication from being sued. Michael J. Fox, star of 1980’s Back to the Future film franchise, publicly said that he realized he has made it when Drucker drew a cartoon of him for MAD.
Awarded the 2015 Medal of Honor by the National Cartoonists Society, his other works included covers for Time magazine and the 1973 film American Graffiti, which was also directed by George Lucas. Cartoonist Rob Rogers called Drucker “my hero.” Comic book writer Tom King called Drucker “one of the greats.” Indian cartoonist Satish Acharya created a cartoon in which Drucker is seen at the pearly gates of heaven saying: “Me worry? I brought a pencil.”
Brian Michael Bendis, who created the character of Jessica Jones which was adapted to a Netflix series, took to social media to thank Drucker for shaping millions of childhoods when they needed him the most.