I want to thank Greg Lyons, the local artist and gifted caricaturist for suggesting an article on Mort Drucker. We lost the amazing artist on April 9 when he passed away at the age of 91. Mort was an important member of the Mad comic book turned magazine family of artists. This group also included Bill Elder, Wally Wood and Jack Davis. He also became well known for his marvelous portraits of noteworthy people, and much other work.
My own memories of enjoying the work of Mort and the other artists has been happily brought back to my mind by talks with Greg Lyons. Greg had some conversations with Mr. Drucker some while back, and I’m sure will treasure that memory. Greg’s enthusiasm reminds me how seriously I studied the drawings of those artists and how much robust art does to encourage younger artists to emerge. As a youth I recall doing my own series of spoof cartoons mimicking as close as I could the work of that wonderful group. I’ve spent many years of my life drawing and painting because of what they sparked.
Mort was born in Brooklyn March 22 1929 to parents Sarah and Edward Drucker. He attended Erasmus Hall High School where he met his future wife, Barbara. They married shortly after graduation. They had two daughters, Laurie and Melanie. The couple located in Long Island.
Mort began newspaper cartoon work in 1947 at the early age of 18. He helped with a comic strip called “Debby Dean” and then joined DC comics where he worked as a retoucher. He soon went freelance.
Mort joined Mad Magazine in 1956 shortly after Harvey Kurtzman, the founding editor, left. The new editor, Bill Gaines, told Drucker when he applied that if The Brooklyn Dodgers won the game going on that day he would hire him. The Dodgers won. Later Gaines admitted that he would have hired him anyway (but it made a great story Mort told many times over the years).
Drucker drew for Mad Magazine an amazing 55 years. During his long career he drew for many other magazines including covers for Time.
Michael J. Fox said on the Johnny Carson show in 1985 that he knew he had made it in show business when Mort Drucker drew his portrait.
The Time magazine covers Mort drew are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. He received many awards and was given an honorary Doctor of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Boston.
I very much suspect that Mort Drucker left this world with the satisfaction of knowing he had made a very great contribution to his chosen field. I know it will continue to be appreciated as long as there are ways to print and reprint works of art. And I personally hope that is a very, very long time.