Suspended Animation Review

MAD's Greatest Artists: The Completely MAD Don Martin(A Suspended Animation column from 2000.)

Comics Legend Don Martin

"Skwako," and another great master cartoonist is gone.

Don Martin, Mad magazine's "maddest" artist, was born in Patterson, New Jersey in 1931. He initially sold humorous cartoons to magazines including Galaxy, and art for the covers of jazz record albums. His first national success came in 1956 when Al Feldstein, editor of Mad, made Martin's work an integral part of the counter-culture of the 1960s.

Suspended AnimationFor more than thirty years, Martin would create a horde of idiot misfits with multiple chins, feet hinged at the toes, and ape-like arms who stumbled through life on the hard end of the slapstick.

His work was also known for its own unique vocabulary of sound effects. It was a rare page in which "Yarg", "Shklip", "Flot" or some wild, oddball and generally disgusting noise did not accompany someone being flattened, buzz-sawed or somehow mangled.

Regrettably, in 1987, Martin left Mad over a dispute over the rights to his manic work. He continued his whacked humor in Cracked, an early imitation of Mad that had found its own style with time.

Despite his outlandish and influential art, Martin was personally shy and suffered from a degenerative eye disease from much of his life. He died this year at age 68.

Among Martin's thirteen paper and trade paperback collections and comic books were: Mad's Maddest Artist Don Martin Bounces Back, Don Martin's Droll Book (Dark Horse Comics), Mad's Don Martin Forges Ahead, Mad's Don Martin Drops 13 Stories, Mad's Don Martin Steps Out, The Mad Adventures of Capt. Klutz, Mad's Don Martin Carries On, Completely Mad Don Martin (1974).

His work also included extensive contributions to Mad and Cracked, and his own Don Martin Magazine.

Martin's brilliant and unique work is highly recommended for all ages.

Review by Michael Vance