Thursday, April 09, 2020

MORT DRUCKER 1929-2020


Last night the great Mort Drucker-- one of the few true geniuses of 20th century comic art--  passed away peacefully.  He left behind a legacy of brilliant art that influenced, and will continue to influence, generations of young artists.




Drucker was such a humble, gentle soul, I could never quite figure out where he found the drive and ambition to stay at his drawing board creating hundreds of beautiful stories, decade after decade.  He was the opposite of competitive, as generous and open minded an artist as I've ever known.  Yet he held himself to excruciatingly high standards as he crafted his marvelous drawings, working out likenesses for his caricatures and populating his pictures with details and humor that reflected his abundance of spirit.









His work inspired a vast and diverse array of artists.  Oil painter Phil Hale said that his ambition in life was once to go work for Mort Drucker at MAD.  And it was widely reported of painter Jeffery Catherine Jones, "if Jones wanted to emulate any artist in his youth, it was probably Drucker and he wrote him fan letters asking questions about the types of pens he used and how he approached illustration assignments."

This wonderful anecdote from Mort's obituary in The Washington Post reveals his influence:
A 1980 spoof of “The Empire Strikes Back” — portrayed by Mr. Drucker as “The Empire Throws Up” — prompted a nasty letter from lawyers representing director George Lucas. They demanded all profits from that issue of the magazine and asked that the original art be turned over or destroyed.  Publisher William Gaines sent them a copy of a letter received days before from Lucas, in which he gushed about the Mad parody and praised Mr. Drucker as the “Leonardo da Vinci of comic satire.”
The art world won't see Mort's like again.


Drucker and his family at his induction into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame 


14 comments:

Kevin Mizner said...

So sad to learn of his passing. Those of my generation were blessed to grow up with his art.
No words I can write could convey the impact he and his art had upon me. A true, true genius.

MORAN said...

"Genius" is the right word. An awesome artist. There is no one like him today.

Bag-iw Art Society said...

:_(

Vanderwolff said...

"Abundance of spirit" is the perfect calibration between his immense talent and what drove it.

His technical virtuosity was stunning; that he had an unparalleled eye for humanity's quixotic beauty and absurdity, all in the service of making us see what we thought we knew in a far different way, makes Mort truly irreplaceable.

kev ferrara said...

His technical virtuosity was stunning; that he had an unparalleled eye for humanity's quixotic beauty and absurdity, all in the service of making us see what we thought we knew in a far different way, makes Mort truly irreplaceable.

Well said, thank you.

Anonymous said...

A great man.

JSL

Thomas Fluharty said...

Total Rockstar as a person and draftsman. It’s safe to say...NO one ever has been able to draw likenesses like he did in each panel. Any angle always spot on. I wrote him after I scored my first cover for Mad thanking him for being such an inspiration. He wrote me back and was super generous. I still have that letter. Total package of humble human being and supernatural artist. I know he was your friend D. So thankful. Love you!~T

jaleen said...

what a legacy

VanBrunt art said...

He will meet in Heaven so many of the people he immortalized in characiture.

I don't think Mr. Drucker's movie parodies would have been as effective had it not been for his skill as a draftsman. No other artist came close to that, except Wally Wood.

Mort Drucker's virtuosity made those parodies believable as well as hysterical. I must also thank this blog for always posting praises of this unique and exciting artist. One of the absolute greats!!

comicstripfan said...

“There’s more to caricature than drawing a humourous portrait…it’s the subtle nuances of a person…that breathes life into the work. I don’t believe a caricature begins and ends with a face: figure, stance, attitude, expression-all add up to recognition…By matching the expression of the face with the correct hand gesture you can give the work more meaning, dimension, and humor than you can by just capturing a good likeness.”
Mort Drucker On Caricature

Beini said...

I'd just made a blog post about lessons I learned from Drucker yesterday afternoon when I found out this morning Mort had passed away. David I remember finding your post about the way Drucker drew hair and drew hands many years ago and getting all excited thinking wow, I'm not the only one who so enjoyed these details Drucker always generously put in to every panel! I can safely say I learned all I know about drawing from buying MAD magazine, flipping through and hoping the issue contained a movie parody drawn by Mort Drucker, drinking it in and then promptly ripping off his work in creating my own characters. Now, as I get older, I recognize what an unusual talent he was not only in the ways he could draw but in his remarkable generosity. Rest in peace, Mort. Your work has made me the person I am today.

Ken said...

Didn't know the man, can't comment on his work from an art perspective, but I can pay him what to me is the highest compliment--he was very funny. Sounds like he was a mensch, to boot.

Dale Stephanos said...

Thanks for your post, David. Drucker was was for me, the gateway drug to what would turn out to be a lifelong addiction to art in all it’s forms. Even after visiting many of the great masterpieces of the art world, that feeling of pure joy while examining every line of Mort’s amazing work never goes away.

I had the privilege of illustrating a couple of Mad covers a few years ago back in the days when you’d deliver an actual painting to the offices in New York City. While I was there I found myself standing over some freshly inked pages of Mort Drucker art. The confidence I had strutting in with my cover art evaporated immediately. Man, that could could draw on a level I knew I wasn’t capable of. I’ve been trying to get there ever since. RIP, Mort!

eagleweb5152@blogspot.com said...

Very nice sir