Thursday, May 15, 2008

Will Elder

Sad to hear of the passing of Willie Elder, Harvey Kurtzman's longtime collaborator from MAD and TRUMP through HUMBUG, HELP and LITTLE ANNIE FANNY (and finally back to MAD!). Elder had two well-deserved art books in recent years, only one of which we have here at the Library, unfortunately. It's a good one, though--an oversized coffee table tribute to a cartoonist so unique he could mimic the work of most other cartoonists nearly flawlessly! As a longtime DC fan, I first discovered Elder's MAD work circa 1970-71 in a copy of THE MAD READER mass market paperback ( the edition with the guru cover)that I found at Newberry's ten cent store in downtown Cincinnati. I became obsessed with its SUPERMAN parody at the store and begged my mother to buy it. She flipped through it and saw Elder's work and commented that it was dirty so she wouldn't buy it. I talked her into it anyway. In time I discovered his other work including ANNIE FANNY, rather famously described as the most expensive comic strip of all time! Now anyone who knows me knows that I've always (even then) been a Wally Wood guy but somehow Elder snagged me to the point where ever after when I think of MAD, I think of Villie Elder!

Note here my very favorite Will Elder character, the obsessively amoral Melvin Mole from MAD # 2. Note also the panels in which Kurtzman and Elder actually present perhaps the earliest use of the word "BLOG!" Granted the context is different but...
UPDATE: Can't help but note that apparently Fred Hembeck and I shared the same childhood when it came to MAD.

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