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SYFY WIRE obituary

Legendary Mad Magazine cartoonist Mort Drucker dies at 91

By James Comtois
Mort Drucker

Mort Drucker, the legendary cartoonist known for countless film and television parodies and who frequently contributed to Mad Magazine, died Wednesday in his home in Woodbury, New York, The New York Times is reporting. He was 91.

No cause of death was given, although Drucker's daughter Laurie Bachner told the Associated Press he became ill last week and had difficulty walking and breathing. She added that he had not been tested for the coronavirus.

Known chiefly for illustrating Mad’s film and television send-ups, Drucker produced work that parodied such films and shows as the Star Wars filmsStar Trek (both TOS and TNG), Superman, and Batman, among many, many, many others in his long career.

His work also appeared on magazine covers, album covers, and movie posters, including the poster for George Lucas’ mainstream breakthrough film, 1973's American Graffiti. 

American Graffiti - Silver Screen Collection

Drucker also worked for National Periodical Publications before it became DC Comics, and continued to freelance for DC even after working for Mad.

“When I started working for Mad, they assigned me TV satires and asked me to draw famous people,” Drucker told the Times in 2000 about how he developed his iconic and instantly recognizable style. “So, I just did it. It took me a long time to learn the skills I have, and it was time-consuming. With me, everything is trial and error.”

Actor Michael J. Fox once told Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show that he knew he had made it in show business when Drucker caricatured him. The NYT quotes Gremlins director Joe Dante as writing: “There are few thrills in life quite like seeing your own movie parodied in the pages of Mad.”

Awards and honors that Drucker accumulated over his life include the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award, the Will Eisner Hall of Fame Award, and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute of Boston. 

“Sorry to hear that the brilliant MAD MAGAZINE caricaturist Mort Drucker has passed away,” comic book writer J.M. DeMatteis wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “I was crazy about MAD as a kid and Drucker's work was a major reason why.”

“The hours I spent poring over his work... RIP Mort Drucker,” comics author Scott McCloud wrote on the social media site.

Fellow Mad Magazine contributor and colleague Al Jaffee also paid tribute on Twitter. "Rest in peace, Morty," he wrote. "Your pal, A.J."

Drucker is survived by his wife, two daughters, and three grandchildren.