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Don Martin Dept.

A Don Martin hinge-footed manMAD magazine is too big a Baby Boomer phenomenon to write about in one sitting. In fact, I just created its own top-level category, the ultimate Movable Type honor. That's why I'm going to be individually recalling its contributors. Perhaps the greatest of the lot was the immortal Don Martin.

Don Martin was born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1931. He began his career with MAD in 1956. He soon became its centerpiece artist, with each issue containing two or three cartoons featuring the timeless look of Don's characters. This included huge chins, bulbous noses, long, skinny legs, and, of course, the familiar hinged feet.

Going along with the look were the familiar sound effects. I remember a football player who was being interviewed by a sports reporter emitting sounds like "oont" and "groot."

In fact, Don's sound effects were of such literary magnitude that they have been collected here, in alphabetical order.

One of my favorite cartoons involved the town moron standing on a street corner with his finger in his ear. A nearsighted man, mistaking him for a telephone, uses him to make a call. You just have to picture it.

Don left MAD in 1988 in a dispute over his works which appeared in paperback compilations of previously published comics. He claimed to have lost over a million dollars. The feud with MAD publisher William Gaines ended up sending Martin to work for competitor Cracked magazine. MAD hasn't been the same since.

Thanks to Martin, we know what various events sound like. For instance, a sword when it is pulled out of someone's arm (BLIOMP), a man's head being crushed by a woman with a large bottom (BPLFLT!), and a cannibal shuffling shrunken heads (SHWIK SHWIKA SHK SHHHSK SHASHWIK SHWIKA SHWIK SHASH SHAK).

Don died in 2000 of cancer at the age of 68. The world misses him. Check out this online gallery for examples of his genius.

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