Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we did the coolest thing ever. Ever. We visited the MAD Magazine office in New York City. It was our last day, our bags were packed, and we met John Kovaleski who had teed it all up for us. Now I was expecting a quick pop in, handshake, and get-outta-here-we-got-work-to-do, but we were treated to three hours of their time, meeting most of the staff.
Our gracious host, Ryan Flanders (Assistant Art Director) showed us around, giving us the full tour. Here is the meeting room, with original Star Wars pinball and MAD slot machine, plus a lot of other goodies. There were also cabinets in the hall filled with MAD memorabilia.
MAD helped produce the movie 'Up The Academy' in 1980, but later disassociated itself from it. Here I am disgracing the name even further.
After our extensive tour of the rest of the office, we popped in to MAD Art Director Sam Viviano's office to say hello. Here he is hard at work. Sam has a great office, with loads of great art and knick knacks piles from floor to ceiling.
Sam spent ages showing us lots of fun sculpture and artwork (note the recent Mort Drucker drawing in the foreground, above) and then took us to the Board of Fame. My head literally popped off (ok, not literally, but almost...) when he passed me a pen and asked me to make my mark alongside dozens of other MAD artists and writers. Keen eyes will spot Al Jaffee, Peter Kuper, Sergio Aragones and heaps more.
I was bestowed the honour of being one of the "usual gang of idiots", and tried my damnedest not to sweat all over the board while I was drawing.
You can't tell, but I am tiptoeing to reach the spot. I'm guessing the other artists up the top were seven feet tall or so. Or had a chair. Pfff.
I opted for a self portrait of sorts...
So after my heart returned to a normal level of activity and they had cleaned up the puddle at my feet we went into the vault to check out some original work. Well, most of it was very recent, actually, but there were a few gems in there from the past. Check out the names on the drawers...
Here I am studying an original Al Jaffee piece. At almost 90 years old, this guy still has it.
Ryan left this Jack Davis piece for last, as he knew I was a big fan. This is a phenomenal piece of art that was never published. I didn't want to let it go. Seriously, I must have stared at this for five minutes. The photos do not do it justice; a masterpiece of illustration that was probably considered 'just another job' by Davis at the time.
So after chatting a little more to editor John Ficarra and the editorial staff and swiping some magazine and comic samples, we left, had a bite to eat and ran back to get our bags and get on a plane. We were close to missing our flight, but while Ash was fretting and gnashing her teeth, I thought to myself that it would have been worth it; a fitting end to a magnificent holiday. Thanks so much to John, Sam, Ryan and all the staff for making me a very happy guy that day!
(All work copyright MAD Magazine or the respective artists)