Mad’s Don Martin Department

Don Martin cartoon

MAD magazine is too big a Baby Boomer phenomenon to write about in one sitting. Perhaps the greatest of its contributors 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.”

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). Oh, and one I particularly recall: Wonder Woman taking off her bra (PLOOBADOOP).

Don died in 2000 of cancer at the age of 68. The world misses him.

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