SAVANNAH, Ga. - Think of them as the senior class of the "usual gang of idiots." Or the original MAD men perhaps.
There's Al Jaffee, who at 90 still draws the optical illusion fold-in gags for MAD magazine's back page. And Sergio Aragones, still whipping out eye-straining and gut-busting miniature cartoons in the magazine's margins after 48 years. And Jack Davis, who was there at the beginning, drawing the horror spoof "Hoohah!" that appeared in MAD's debut issue in 1952.
They're among the cartoonists who put MAD on the map in the 1950s. Over the next six decades, they blended celebrity caricature, pop-culture parody and political satire in a way that would influence American comedy from Saturday Night Live to The Onion and more. And some of them are still churning out gags for MAD, in defiance of the ever-expanding generation gap with the magazine's young audience.
Aragones, Jaffee and Davis were among eight veteran MAD contributors gathering Saturday for a rare reunion on the Georgia coast. With their homes and studios spread across the U.S., the artists who put their work side by side in hundreds of MAD issues don't often meet face to face.
This weekend, the cartoonists are being honored and humored by their hosts, the Savannah College of Art and Design and the National Cartoonists Society. Their art is hanging in a gallery, while their schedule includes workshops with the college's art students and a panel discussion on MAD's history and their work.
"I have kids come to me at conventions saying, 'My grandfather grew up with your work,"' said Aragones, 74, whose recent features include "A MAD Look at Lady Gaga." "Older people think the older MADs were funnier. But not really. You grew up. Your sense of humor has changed."
See complete story in Sunday's Times Free Press.