Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Don Martin Steps Out!
There's no doubt in my mind that the biggest artist news ever in the history of comic books was when Jack "King" Kirby left his creations at Marvel and turned his attentions to DC where he created the awesome Fourth World.
That's the winner, but second on my personal list is when longtime MAD artist Don Martin, often labeled the "Maddest Artist" of all left the magazine to take up residence at its number one competitor Cracked.
Don Martin's offerings were always the ones I checked out first in an issue of MAD when I'd get my grubby mitts on one. It went like this usually -- Don Martin pages, Al Jaffee fold-out (without folding), Sergio Aragones pages, then onto other things like Dave Berg, and the satires by Angelo Torres and Mort Drucker. But whatever was in the mag, it was always Martin first. Then he left and his last page was the one above in MAD #277 (see the cover below).
In a few months (newsstand time) Cracked bellowed its acquisition with the greatest of tease by showcasing the great Don Martin on the cover of Cracked #235, something relatively rare in his long MAD career.
The story of how Cracked got Martin can be found here (at least in part) in a column by then Cracked editor Mort Todd. The truth is usually more complicated than one person's perception of it, but this rendering of the tale seems straightforward enough. Like Jack Kirby before him, Martin left for a lot of reasons, but mostly I suspect it was because he felt disrespected by the folks who had been making some good profit off his work for many years. Pride of self can make men and women do a lot they'd prefer not to do.
I picked up the awesomely large two-volume Don Martin MAD collection several years ago. I found it so ridiculously cheap I could not resist despite its mammoth stature. I need to get it out and keep it handy for those moments I need a laugh or two. Don Martin was always great for that.