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Sergio Aragonés: MAD’s oldest active idiot

… Aragonés contributed to a special edition of MAD, published on Tuesday, which marks the magazine’s 70th anniversary.

The special edition also highlights Aragonés’ status as the oldest artist currently drawing for MAD. He says he was blessed to spend six successful decades with the iconic magazine…

Once Aragonés left for New York in 1962, he didn’t know if publishers there would appreciate these wordless cartoons.

MAD editors, however, immediately appreciated Aragonés’ work. They bought his cartoons featuring astronauts and asked for an article on motorcycle cops. Aragonés then decided not to return to Mexico.

“When MAD accepted me, it was a change of life, a change of mind, a change of everything – someone liked what I did,” says Aragonés. However, despite this “radical change of mind”, he appreciated: “I didn’t have to change at all. It was what I had been doing since I was a child: drawing, drawing, drawing.

Michael Cavna, for the Washington Post, profiles Sergio Aragones
on the occasion of MAD’s 70th anniversary and Sergio’s 60th anniversary with the magazine.

 
above: MAD #76 (January 1963), Sergio's first appearance in the magazine

Sergio Aragonés had been reading MAD magazine for a long time in Mexico when he first landed in New York, bringing new artwork and hope. He walked through the doors of the humor shop 60 years ago, expecting to find the place as wittily crazy as the publication’s satirically hip pages. It was, after all, the home of the staff’s self-proclaimed “usual gang of idiots.”

Instead, the recent student was introduced to a relatively quiet office on Madison Avenue. Where was the fantasy? MAD-cap frivolity? It wasn’t a high jink club.

“I thought there would be a lot of jokes on the walls,” Aragonés said via Zoom from his home in Ojai, Calif., where he celebrated his 85th birthday last month. After being hired the day he walked in to sell his work, he suggested to editor William Gaines: “Why don’t we paint one of the doors to look like an elevator – putting fake numbers on top? – confusing visitors trying to get out. Or maybe even better: “Why not put a bomb in the roof with the sound effect ‘tick-tock-tick-tock’?”

“Bill looked at me like, ‘Sergio, this is a workers office.’ He wanted the office to be very functional.


© EC Comics                          h/t: Mike Lynch

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