Thursday, May 15, 2008

MAD Artist Willie Elder Passes at 86

So sad to read about this morning’s passing of 86-year-old Willie Elder, the cartoonist and illustrator whose work was most strongly identified with MAD Magazine. Elder was born Wolf William Eisenberg in the Bronx, September 22, 1921, but changed his name on his return from WWII.

Elder was one of of Harvey Kurtzman’s first hires at MAD in 1952. MAD editor John Ficarra has fond memories. “Willie Elder was one of the funniest artists to ever work for MAD,” Ficarra said today in a press release. “He created visual feasts with dozens of background gags layered into every MAD story he illustrated. He called these gags ‘chicken fat.’ Willie’s ‘anything goes’ art style set the tone for the entire magazine and created a look that endures to this day.”

MAD art director Sam Viviano added that everyone “who has attempted to draw a funny picture over the course of the last fifty or sixty years owes an enormous debt to Willie, who taught us all how to do it -- and no one has ever done it better than he did.”



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