Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It wasn't until late 2000 that I first discovered the marvelous monster/horror magazines that Warren had started in the '60's. What really peaked my interest was the absolutely amazing art that vividly accompanied each well crafted tale. I instantly recognized many of these talented creators as having contributed to the original EC comics from the '50's. CREEPY & EERIE boasted such EC talent as Frank Frazetta, John Severin, Wally Wood, Angelo Torres and of course Jack Davis sporting the iconic CREEPY #1 cover.

It was after discovering these gems that the idea came to do an "All Monster Issue". Knowing that I really wanted to parody this cover I initially (naively) approached Bernie Wrightson to illustrate it and was turned down quicker than you can say "NO!" : ) Next another artist took a swing at it but it wasn't quite right until my friend Ben Boling stepped up to the plate with what proved to be a funny spoof/homage to that amazing initial issue.

While waiting for our Diamond order I stumbled across another magazine that had the very same idea sporting their latest cover. It was the excellent "MONSTER MEMORIES 2002 Yearbook" from the long running SCARY MONSTERS magazine. Indeed what a coincidence that we were both thinking along the same lines at that very moment. I thought it would be fun to put all these 3 covers side by side to see the differences and similarities. This same concept was also utilized on the cover to Two Morrows Publishing's "The WARREN Companion" a must have book for anyone interested in Warren's rich publishing history.

While Uncle CREEPY, Sam Scare (SCARY MONSTERS), Jim Warren (The WARREN Companion) all read their titles to an attentive (if not quite terrifying) audience, Stupid Cupid has no such luck as his listeners are clearly more than repulsed by the drivel that he's reading them.

The contents of this issue while all keeping with the "All Monster" theme were quite varied, including these 3 main features: Mayberry RIP by Lint Hatcher about characters from the beloved Andy Griffith show turning into zombies it was illustrated in a realistic style (very CREEPYish) with a humorous twist. Billy Genius (101 Uses for a Turd) did an excellent job with his 6 pages of illustrated lyrics to some Monster songs filled with tons of sight gags and Dave Newton's homage piece to EC comics called "Reduction of the Insolent" which included cameos by the 3 Ghoulunatics and Alfred E. Neuman. Much FUN !!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

THWAK magazine #4

Always wanting to try something different, my friend John Hett (Journal of MADness publisher) and I decided to take a new approach to our magazines and combined forces for this "special double issue".
One side was THWAK #4 - flip it over and you've got the Journal of MADness #15! This issue came out in Fall/Winter '02 and also included an article on a "Brief History of Humor Magazines" which included a listing of over 40 titles!
I was thrilled that Kent Gamble painted this cover which is by far my favorite. It is also the 1st time that all previous humor magazine mascots have appeared together on one cover. Here Stupid Cupid lights the "candle" to a cake celebrating 50 years of satire in honor of MAD magazine. Boy are those mascots gonna be in for a suprise! Do you think you can name them all? I actually got to handle the original painting while scanning a transparency to print from and the colors were so vibrant. It was stunning! I ended up printing a large poster that now hangs in my office.
Another small tidbit of info was that this cover had a small change to one of our tag lines. Up until this issue we had always had the phrase "Steal Me!" $3.99 on the cover to the right of the logo. I was informed by some store owners that they were having problems with people actually trying to steal the magazines, as if taking us up on the dare. Issue #4 & 5 sported the new and improved "A steal at" $3.99.

Journal of MADness #15/THWAK $4

This is the Journal of MADness side of our little experiment. Its cover done by Kent Gamble as a play on MAD #13. The issue, although a delight to both THWAK and JOM readers who now got to sample an alternate publication, created logistical issues for some of our distributors who displayed both covers and were confused by which title to assign to the UPC code.
This issue contained a great 7 page Mort Drucker article.

THWAK magazine #5

This ended up as the final issue of the run from summer '03 and is my most favorite. The issue flowed really well and many new contributors were added such as the amazing Jay Lynch, an amazing interview and 2 page spread by CRACKED veteran Bruce Bolinger and a one pager by wacky Art Bouthillier! James Bond cover art and supporting interior 5 pager by Dave Newton who had been a loyal contributor since issue #1.
At the time of its release I was already compiling material for the next 2 issues, #6 was to be dedicated entirely to the one page multi panel gag and #7 didn't have a particular theme. Material for these issues ended up going into CRACKED, JOKESTER and the new THWAK Bonfire of Insanity Collection.
The issue was to be our last as in late summer of that year I became an editor of CRACKED and although I fully intended to continue THWAK the workload and other commitments just proved too much.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another "Behind the Scenes Look"

Here's another look at the layout process. In this instance we were playing around with the large plume of smoke, initially going for the same color. I felt that this didn't really help the logo and title "pop" so we went with a smaller amount of smoke against a black night sky background.
As I've already mentioned the THWAK gang consist of some truly amazing talent as you'll see when you pick up the book check a little futher down for more details ( "this is a plug" : )
There are 30 contributors, not only from all over the USA but from all over the world! Represented are: Australia, Great Britain, Argentina and Canada.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Man them's "Some Ugly Looking Action Figures!"

For all your Toy and Action figure needs - Come check out the 9th annual JOElanta May 17th in Atlanta. For more details http://www.joelanta.com/ GI Joe, STAR WARS, Johnny West, Dragon, Sideshow, Barbie, Transformers, Mego, Hot Wheels, Comics, Magazines, Horror/Monster, Games, Tin Toys and Pop culture collectibles of all kinds!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Birth of THWAK!

Back in early 2000 after a showing of my artwork at a local comic store I met a fellow named Buddy Finethy (Mellow Mushroom Art Director) who would not only be a great source of encouragement but also a terrific friend. Buddy had an idea to put together a compilation of local cartoonists and I was invited to be a part of the project. At one of our brainstorming (hanging out) sessions at my game room, aptly named "The MAD Pad" because of the wall to wall (and ceiling too!) artwork and posters etc. we came up with the name THWAK after a DON MARTIN sound effect. It would also be at one of these sessions that our "lovable" mascot Stupid Cupid was born. A little later that year we launched THWAK as a comic book and sold it locally in the Atlanta market and Florida.

I enjoyed the comic book version but my own aspirations were to turn this into a humor magazine, so in 2001 I revamped the title into magazine format, solicited contributors from all over the country (and a few from other countries), started promoting at big shows like Dragon Con and secured distribution through Diamond Comics as well as 3 or 4 others.

Initially in our first issue I wanted to imitate MAD down to the page headings (a direction that I decided to change by the next issue) but unlike other humor magazines I embraced the fact that we were also fans honoring those publications that had come before us like a fanzine in a way. John Hett of The Journal of MADness was certainly an influence in this area as well as my mini interviews/editorials (A Little O' This And A Little O' That") that appeared in all but one issue.

THWAK has been an amazing experience for me. It has opened some doors but most importantly to me it has afforded me the opportunity to meet many wonderful artists, writers and fans alike. Many of whom I have come to call my friend. What a great life!

DON MARTIN tribute

In early 2000 I was deeply saddened as I am sure many others were as well to learn of the news that our beloved funnyman Don Martin had passed away. To try and express my feelings for my cartooning idol I illustrated and wrote this piece that was published in issue #9 of The Journal of MADness. The page opposite had a eulogy in verse by non other than fellow Madman Frank Jacobs.

The DON MARTIN Dictionary of Sound Effects

Back in 2001 THWAK contributor Richard Parks had the (wonderful?) idea to convince 9 die hard MAD fans that it would be a good idea to document each and every incredible Don Martin sound effect from the pages of MAD magazine. After being edited by Ed Norris of the fanzine MADpanic, John Hett ran this 33 page reference in issue #12 of the Journal of MADness that came out in November of that same year. Strangely enough this piece did get some media attention. Whether or not any socially redeeming factors would come out of it, who knows. All I can say is that it was certainly fun to be a part of. My contribution, in addition to going through my assigned 20 or so issues was this full page accompanying illustration. For the complete Dictionary please click on my Cool Links section on the right hand side of the page.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hot Rod piece from new THWAK book

Here's a page from the new book for all you Car enthusiasts. This piece was written by Mike Arnold and illustrated by Bob Hardin. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Postcard announcing Alfred E. Neuman show with special guest Al Feldstein

Journal of MADness #16

After a 5 year hiatus the Journal of MADness #16 came out in Jan '08 highlighting the many excellent exhibits from the show.

Al Feldstein, MAD magazine editor at "Alfred We Hardly Knew Thee" museum exhibit from 1-23-2008

One of the greatest gifts I have gotten as a cartoonist and a publisher are the many incredible people I've met and friendships I've made over the years. In Jan '08 I finally got to meet 2 of my longtime friends John Hett (The Journal of MADness) and Marty Hirchak (Pop Art Funnies) in Michigan for John's "Alfred We Hardly Knew Thee", a museum exhibition of Alfred E. Neuman and his past.

What made this event very special for me was to not only be able to meet Al Feldstein but to hang out with him and experience that day with other MAD fans like John and Doug Gilford (The MAD cover site - check the Cool links area on this Blog). After John gave us all a tour of the exhibit the day culminated in a lecture and question and answer session with Mr. Feldstein on his over 30 year career at MAD.

The above picture is of myself, Al Feldstein, John Hett and Doug Gilford posing in front of one of the few remaining "Muffler Men" AKA Alfred E. Neuman who at one time dotted the countryside. This one had been cut in half many years earlier and lived in a store of some sort.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Backcover to the THWAK Bonfire of Insanity Collection

Initial pencil by Kent Gamble for Trade Paperback

Here's a look behind the scenes at the first pencil draft of the cover. Some minor changes were made, most notably our mascot Stupid Cupid in the front right ended up in more of a horizontal position as he devilishly grilled his hot dog over the roaring flame. The plume of smoke that serves as a backdrop to the THWAK logo was added during the layout process.
Kent Gamble's mastery at capturing likenesses has been serving him well ever since his work with CRAZY magazine starting with issue #20 through to it's final issue #94 in 1983. Kent also did work for WACKO, PARODY, CRACKED, Australian MAD and has been the cover artist for both The Journal of MADness as well as the now defunct MADpanic fanzine.
The crowd scene is made up of just a few of the many THWAK contributors and include (from left to right) Dave Newton, myself, Noel "Scotch" Anderson, Ben Boling, Mike Arnold, Scott Gosar, Buddy Finethy, Kit Lively, Kent Gamble and Marty Hirchak.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another 2 pager from the brand new THWAK Trade paperback

An example of a piece that originally appeared in THWAK #5 with a brand new layout treatment.

Friday, March 6, 2009


This 4 panel piece was an idea I had jotted down back in the '80's. It was first published in color on the back cover of the THWAK comic book in 2000. I liked it so much that I redrew it initially to appear in CRACKED #366 which unfortunately never came to be as the magazine was sold 3 months after issue #365 hit the news stands. This ended up appearing in JOKESTER #1 and later Pop Art Funnies #4 both published in 2005.

Say "Hi" to Frankie!

Frankenstein's monster illustration from THWAK #3 "All Monster Issue" from 2002.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

JOElanta 2009 Poster

JOElanta 2009

We are very excited about the 9th annual JOElanta that will take place on May 17th at the Marriott at Century Center, 2000 century center Blvd, Atlanta Ga 30345. With over 110 tables jam packed with GI Joe, Star Wars, Monster Toys, Dragon, Marx Toys, Comics & Magazines and all types of Toys. There will be something for the kid in all of us!

Come see the brand new War of the Worlds tribute Diorama

Give your joes a brand new head of hair with Don Coffee and his "special flocker machine"

Great vendors like: Cotswald, Toy Chest and Collectibles, The Soldiers Place, Full Circle and many many more.

Custom figure and vehicle contests.

Saturday activities for special "Commanders Packages" include Trivia night, Lobby swap hosted by Mr. EJ White, Film Festival, Special Dealers Preview Room, JOElanta 2009 T-shirt Poster and Pin.

All proceeds of JOElanta go towards the Atlanta Toy and Diorama Museum. Be a part of the dream!

For more info go to http://www.joelanta.com/ or e.mail joelanta@gmail.com

Sierra - just "one of the crowd"

Ariana poses with her posse

Ariana gets in on the action of the shoot.

The one and only Mr. EJ

Like some kind of whacked out interpretation of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel - EJ strikes a pose

Photo shoot for JOElanta 2009 poster

Here are Mike and Steve meticulously putting together one action figure after another onto this custom made riser. When all was said and done a total of 136 figures were involved in the shoot!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

CRACKED mazagine page

In late 2003 I joined CRACKED magazine as a co-editor with Scott Gosar and the year and a half that I was there was a great experience. During this time my biggest thrill were the many great artists and writers that we got to bring on board and work with. The editorial process can certainly be interesting.
This is originally what this finished page was to look like.

And what it finally looked like in print

Here is the same illustration with some minor adjustments. The biggest change being the move from color to black and white. Unfortunately due to some miscommunication the writer credits were also left off, although strangely enough the page facing this one was also written by Kit Lively (National Lampoon/THWAK etc) and illustrated by Don Orehek.

Alfred E. Neuman Gallery

I've loved MAD magazine since I was 10 years old so when I found out that there was an actual magazine with slick covers dedicated to nothing but MAD magazine I was psyched. The Journal of MADness is John Hett's brainchild and debuted in Nov '97. To date there have been 18 single magazine sized issues (stay tuned as a Journal of MADness trade paperback is in the works containing brand new interviews). With covers by the super talented Kent Gamble (CRAZY/CRACKED/MADpanic etc...), interviews with UGOI, articles on fandom and collectibles this magazine truly had the whole package. In early 1998 I subscribed and immediately started to contribute. The following images are just some of the many Alfreds I have drawn over the years.
This painting is from the cover to #8.5 from June 2000.

Subscription Mailer

8 page subscription mailer - also announces issue #8.5

Maximus? I think NOT!!!

Building on an earlier theme of other humor magazines layed to rest, this (most definitely premature) image appeared in #13 of the Journal of MADness. This was during the anthrax scare at the CRACKED offices when the magazine was on a lengthy hiatus and shortly after all subscriptions were cancelled. As it would play out CRACKED still had a good 3 years left. This same image accompanied an article titled CRACKED vs MAD: The Humor War That Wasn't by John Hett (originally slated for CRACKED #362) that appeared in the extremely rare Journal of MADness #15.5 (only about 25 copies).

The little Tramp

This was the cover to a 6 page resubscription mail out from around 2001. It caused a little bit of a commotion among subscribers who thought that this was infact issue #12. What they didn't know was that a 64 pager was right around the corner.

"May the Force be with you"

This was originally a premise that was pitched to MAD (I have the rejection letter to prove it!) although they already had a similar concept as I later found out when the 2 collectors covers hit the stands months later.
This appeared in issue #7 summer '99 of the Journal of MADness.

Carnival of Freaks

Those poor, poor carnies - never have they been so nauseated.

Unused Journal of MADness subscription ad illustration. The caption read:

9 out of 10 doctors feel that reading the Journal of MADness is bad for your health!

Alfred the Dentist?

Now really, who would want to have their teeth worked on by someone with that goofy smile?!

Tour De Farce

Alfred E. Neuman gives the term "Doping" a whole new meaning. This always was one of my favorite Alfred illustrations.


Way back in March 1997 Jerry Moore started publishing Mind Snack MADlog a monthly newsletter serving the MAD magazine fanbase. These newsletters contained everything from for sale and want lists to contributors questions to the Potrzebie Statistical Abstract a retrospective review of each single issue of MAD by publisher Moore. Before the internet had really taken off and MAD Mumblings and the MAD message boards provided an instant on line community collectors communicated via this publication and others like the MADpanic and later the Journal of MADness. This illustration was included in the last issue dated Jan 1999 and signified what I am sure many others were feeling at the time.

This is my first attempt at drawing Alfred from back in '97. It appeared in a monthly newsletter of Mind Snack MADlog and was later used as the cover to the compilation of the 1st 9 newsletters into magazine format.

The image shows how MAD had outlasted all but one rival and CRACKED's Sylvester P. Smythe was hanging on for dear life. Little did I know then that one day I would get to try and keep the CRACKED flame going a little longer...