Hey Reddit! I'm Tom Richmond, a freelance caricaturist, cartoonist, and humorous illustrator and a longtime member of the "Usual Gang of Idiots" at MAD Magazine. For the last twenty years I've been MAD's principal artist on their trademark movie and TV parodies. I've also done work for clients like DC and Marvel Comics, Sports Illustrated Kids, Scholastic, GQ, Jeff Dunham, National Geographic and many more. You saw my work in the movie "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and on the Cartoon Network's "MAD" show.

MAD recently stopped doing their movie parodies when they switched to an all reprint format. MAD writer Desmond Devlin and I are carrying on the tradition in an all-new book called "CLAPTRAP", which will feature at least ten parodies of new and cult classic films in the "classic humorous vein". We are looking to keep the laughs coming and preserve an American pop culture genre. If interested in the project, check it out here.

Ask me anything! I'll even do some caricature requests during the AMA if you suggest some interesting subjects!


Twitter proof

EDIT: Thanks Reddit! I'm gonna take a break, but I'll check back into the thread later on for any other additional questions that are posted.

Comments: 217 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

llamageddon0178 karma

Are there any actors/celebrities who you find you could not easily caricature because they are either so anodyne they haven’t any features you could “enhance” or are so recognisable/distinctive that they are almost a caricature in themselves?

Art4MAD111 karma

I like that question.

There is no person you can't do a caricature of, but sometimes identifying the features to exaggerate can be elusive.

When I did the parody of Brokeback mountain, I thought the caricature of Heath Ledger would be difficult and Jake Gyllenhaal would be easy. But the opposite was true! Heath Ledger was a no problem, and I struggled greatly with Jake Gyllenhaal getting the features just right.

"Barebutt Mountain"

Sven_8862 karma

Is Alfred E Nueman as difficult to work with as the rumors claim?

Art4MAD70 karma

Alfred E Neuman is very difficult to work with. He never shuts up and he drinks all the coffee.

OddicusToddicus55 karma

Hey there! Avid MAD reader since 12 or so, thank you for giving some of the most iconic imagery in comic art. You are like my Terry Gilliam. How did you find out about the reprint direction they would be taking? I know the reaction on our side was a bit more somber, but I was curious to see if you guys had seen it coming or if it was dropped on you as well.

Also, if you’re taking caricature requests, I would love to see what you could do of this picture of me as a kid... https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/oddsquad/images/3/31/ODD_tODD-1-.png/revision/latest?cb=20150808170155

Art4MAD137 karma

Here you go!

Contributors got an email notifying us that there would be very little new material going forward. So it was dropped on as well!

NominalPerson42 karma

Thanks Tom for doing this AMA! Glad you where able to get this organized! I love the work that has come out of MAD and really appreciate the opportunity to ask a MAD artist some questions.

  • How does your process work for when you start creating a new parody/spoof piece? Have you ever run into a creative block during your process?

  • Are there any pieces you did for MAD that did not get published? Any favorites you wish would have been seen published in an issue?

  • Where you ever stumped on how to start a caricature of a character/creature?

  • Outside of your work for MAD, is there another project that you enjoyed working on that you would be willing to share?

  • In your CLAPTRAP introduction video we can see your office/studio space, how long did it take to cultivate all the various pieces displayed in there? Any notable pieces that stand out the most or have a close place in your heart?

Thanks again and best of look with CLAPTRAP and your future endeavors!!!

Art4MAD62 karma

Hi NominalPerson! You are the mod on the /r/MADMagazine subreddit, yes? Thanks for being here!

  1. For movies and TV, I immediately watch the show or movie. I need to do my research somehow! I've invested into a home theater to enjoy the movie watching process. I'll read the scripts as well and then I get to work. All creative people run into creative blocks. I'll step away from my work for a while to let the creative juices refuel.

  2. Nope! As an artist, I only work on jobs that they intend to publish.

  3. I would have loved to have done a parody of the new Watchmen series on HBO...

  4. Not necessarily start one... But I sometimes get stumped on ending one! It can be difficult to get the final touches done right.

  5. I enjoyed working on the mini series for Marvel of the Coneheads!

  6. Oh man... I've been collecting them since I moved into my studio, 25 years ago! Picture of my office and my favorite pieces

In my studio I have something called "The Big Three", which have a special place in my heart

AdmiralAkbar136 karma

First, I'd like to thank you for doing your part in corrupting my youth. Socrates would be proud.

Second, were there any specific pieces (whether yours or another member of the team's) that you really liked, but ultimately never made it into MAD?

Art4MAD37 karma

When I work on a piece for MAD, it will ultimately be published for the magazine. I may have to make some edits to it to get it cleared for publishing, but it will eventually make it.

There are people that pitch ideas for the magazine, and those ideas may not make it. But as an artist I get assigned a feature that has already been chosen to be published.

nursecarmen24 karma

Did you have the chance to meet Don Martin? He was a bit of a hero of mine when I was a kid in the seventies.

Art4MAD25 karma

No, I unfortunately never had the chance to meet him. I would have loved to. I've had the chance to meet other MAD legends, just not Don.

filthfarmfilth17 karma

what's going on with the future of MAD in print? my son has had a subscription for years, and after the announcement last year, i thought MAD was ceasing to exist, but the issues keep coming. these are all reprints? what me worry?

Art4MAD27 karma

Hi filthfarmfilth! MAD is currently almost 100% reprint material, with a new cover and a new Fold-in (by Johnny Sampson now, Al Jaffee has retired) each issue. There is the occasional new article but otherwise all classic stuff. My understanding is it will be that way for the foreseeable future.

reddRad8 karma

Does MAD completely own your work and can publish it as many times as they want for free, or do you still get paid residuals or whatever for re-using your work?

Art4MAD20 karma

All the work for MAD is "work for hire", so they own all the rights for it. They can reprint it as much as they'd like, without paying me any more.

thekillercook15 karma

One of my favorite bits from the Simpson’s is when Bart visits Mad’s office and is let down. Any great office stories from working at Mad it is Bart Right to believe it’s just a normal office?

Art4MAD29 karma

Well, I didn't work at the office! I had the flexibility to draw from home. All the Usual Gang of Idiots worked in their own personal studios.

There are some great office stories though.

There's a famous story where Bill Gaines convinced a kid in the mail room that Bill had an evil twin. And he came in one day with a fake mole and fake mustache, and just terrorized this kid all day pretending to be the evil twin.

Art4MAD35 karma

Oh boy... Currently working on this. Will update soon.

EDIT: Here you go!. I'm gonna need a question to go along with the next caricature I do though...

nrith5 karma

11 minutes?! Damn. Do you always do sketches that quickly?

Art4MAD15 karma

This is a "live" style caricature. They are supposed to be fast!

KFBR392Hunter14 karma

Hi Tom! Long time fan here. I see you’re drawing people for fun here. How about my lovely wife and I? Our anniversary is on Halloween and I can’t think of anything cooler :)

Either way thanks for doing this!


249ba36000029bbe974913 karma

Could you always do whatever you wanted? Did you ever get suits threatened by some of the content holders for going too far? How often did the editor/publisher tell you to pull back on the content?

Art4MAD18 karma

I've never heard of any legal issues with any of the art I did for MAD, but there were lines we could not cross. MAD never does "victim humor" or does any "punching down". We steered clear of overt nudity or anything too "R rated". After a while I figured out what I could get away with and what I could not, and adjusted my work accordingly.

TimeVendor13 karma

What was your best and un forgetful MAD moment?

Art4MAD27 karma

Maybe not my best, but my unforgetful MAD moment was the first time I visited the offices in New York after I had become one of the "Usual Gang of Idiots".

MAD editor Nick Meglin mercessiously insulted me in front of the staff. He insulted my art, my inking, my drawings, and my shoes. And my response was, "What's wrong with my shoes?".

TimeVendor1 karma

And your reply to the shoes problem was?

Art4MAD9 karma

Getting new shoes of course.

timmah61213 karma

Were there any times that people you parodied took it personally and tried being difficult about it?

Art4MAD25 karma

Not really...

Most of the interactions of the people I've drawn in MAD were positive. They loved appearing in MAD Magazine. You could compare it to a musician being thankful for Weird Al parodying their song!

Minebot4513 karma

What were some of your favorite parodies to work on?

Art4MAD36 karma

Hello Minebot45!

I am a big Batman fan so the parodies I did one of the three Christopher Nolan movies are definitely at the top of that list. As far as TV shows, I loved doing Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Stranger Things. I have my Mad Men parody signed hanging up in my office!

foxbat11 karma

Mr. Richmond - what do you dislike about your industry? has the industry changed dramatically in the last decade? if so, are the changes for the better or worse? what is the best complaint you’ve received?

Art4MAD29 karma

If you mean the illustration industry, there isn't really anything I dislike about it. But it's harder to make a living in today's world due to the decrease in magazines. There's just less clients buying illustrations unfortunately.

Things have definitely changed. There are much fewer opportunities for illustrators.

Best complaint or compliment? I'll answer both!

Best compliment was when J. J. Abrams contacted me to buy the splash page for my "Lost" parody. And he told me my work belonged in the same category as artists like Mort Drucker and Jack Davis.

"Best" complaint was when Bryan Cranston contacted me about buying the art for the Malcolm in the Middle parody. He told me Frankie Muniz hated the caricatures I drew of him.

Hoosier57410 karma

Hi Tom! In what avenues do you pick up freelance work? Do you have an agent, or just general social/web presence and word of mouth recommendations? Or do clients seek you out from your work at Mad?

Art4MAD20 karma

Hi Hoosier574!

Great question. I have never had a “rep”, which is what illustrators call their agents. I used to advertise with illustration sourcebooks like the “Directory of Illustration”, but those are a lot less effective these days. Most of my work comes from word of mouth and from art directors I’ve worked with in the past recommending me. I advertise on the online “iSpot” illustration directory also.

ticklypicklez9 karma

Hey Tom! Huge fan, thanks for doing this! Quick Q, what’s your favorite type of ice cream?

Art4MAD16 karma

Rum raisin.

The wife always makes an effort to say I'm an old man when I have some. No regrets!

bronkula7 karma

Would you rather be in the office drawing, or in the middle of a caricature rush at a theme park?

Art4MAD10 karma

I'd rather be in the office, because no one leans over my workstation with nacho cheese breath, mosquitos aren't biting my legs, and nobody is asking me where the bathrooms are located.

YouGoThatWayIllGoHom7 karma

Hey Tom! Years and years ago you gave me some advice on using Photoshop and embracing the spotting created by using transparent washes. That's helped me significantly over the years so I wanted to thank you :)

Looking forward to Claptrap!

Question regarding your other book, Mad Art of Caricature. In that book you have a really cool description of drawing/exaggerating heads/faces by dividing them into several distinct shapes that you can kind of stretch and skew.

Actually, I had two questions: 1) Do you ever literally do this in Photoshop (Or whatever you're using nowadays) with a warp tool? Try as I may, I've never been able to actually get the warping tool to work properly beyond the most basic sketch! It seems like it messes everything up, especially colors

2) Do you do anything similar for the body? I normally use the basic 'Maniken' figure and stretch stuff out there, but when you get into stuff like that, there's a whole other layer of physics and stuff involved where you can unintentionally create figures that don't look like they'd actually stand up.

Looking forward to hanging out reading your responses :) Thanks for doing this!

Art4MAD14 karma

Glad I could help! I am also looking forward to CLAPTRAP!

  1. No, I don't do that in PhotoShop. I mostly do it in my head. That is just an exercise in simplifying the subject so it is easier to play around with exaggerating the relationships of the features and elements of the subject.
  2. I do something similar for drawing anything. Simplifying the things you draw into basic shapes and then reconstructing them with detail is fundamental drawing

boersc7 karma

Hi there. No question, just wanted to say I grew up reading Mad and really enjoyed the movie and TV spoofs (Top Gun was really ACE!)

Ah, I guess I DO have a question, spawned by your book title. Do you consider doing GAME spoofs as well? (because of the CLAPTRAP reference)

Art4MAD7 karma

I've only done some limited video game spoofs. I did a Clash of Clans parody of Trump and Kim John-Un. I also did the Ready Player One parody featuring some video game characters.

For CLAPTRAP we're just gonna focus on movies. If we do another volume it will most likely be TV show parodies.

legolarry277 karma

How much free reign did/do you have at Mad Magazine when drawing stories? From a readers perspective when you see the panels there are so many hidden details/Easter eggs/jokes. How many are scripted out vs how much are you hiding for your own enjoyment? Claptrap looks awesome btw I cannot wait to read that!

Art4MAD20 karma

Thanks for the question!

I got a lot of free reign working on pieces for MAD. It's something called "chicken fat", in which artists add their own background gags to the piece. Examples include adding my wife's name tattooed onto Jason Momoa's abs (per her request), including friends/family as caricatures in parodies, and any other little funny things I see fit.


How is working with Sergio?

Art4MAD6 karma

Well, I don't really work with Sergio, but it's great to count him as one of my friends! It's always great getting together with him. Our booths are right next to each other at San Diego Comic Con.

carolefcknbaskin5 karma

Is there a joke that you really loved but wasn't used or too risque even for MAD?

What's your favorite joke/sequence of a parody you've done?

Can you do a caricature of Megan/Nicki/the featured cameos from WAP? 😊

Art4MAD38 karma

  1. Oh yeah for sure... When I did the parody for the Green Lantern movie I had Green Lantern's ring doing a hand construct that was flipping the bird at the main villain. MAD didn't appreciate that and nixed the idea...

  2. Hmmm... Nothing is coming to mind, they're all incredibly enjoyable and there isn't a single one that stands out.

  3. I have no idea what those words are.

platitood5 karma

I enjoyed mad when I was a kid, and I restarted the paper subscription with the new issue one reboot so my kids could have access to it. Do you guys have a breakdown on the age of your readers? Are they mostly old folks like me or are you getting a lot of kids interested?

Art4MAD4 karma

Traditionally, MAD has never paid attention to demographics. I would say these days the majority of readers are of the "older" variety.

nrith5 karma

Hi, Tom. How much of your artistic style is the distinctive Mad style? Do the editors look for artists whose style is already Mad-like, or is it like architects, who all somehow have the same handwriting style?

Art4MAD8 karma

MAD very specifically does not want people whose work looks similar to other famous MAD artists.

It terms of caricature, MAD likes more realistic representations and less grotesque exaggerations.

Hoosier5745 karma

Another Q: Any tips on working from home and finding work/life balance? Do you try to work a normal 9-5 or do deadlines (and household/family/life) keep you scattered all over the place?

Art4MAD5 karma

Two tips

Set actual work hours and stick to them!

Try to have a work space at home, that is as separate from your living space . That can be a challenge at times, especially when your dogs are scratching at the door to get in!

halo5724 karma

Not sure if this is still live as I am in the UK but - are you sad that Mad has ended in the form that it always had?

I've been reading since 1982 and think it is really sad that there will be no volume of new material and it will now only exist predominantly as reprints.

The magazine has been a part of so many millions of lives and now it is quietly fading away, to a point where I expect it to be cancelled soon as it is subs only and likely can't sustain itself.

Art4MAD8 karma

Yes I'm sad, and not just because I'm not getting paid anymore!

I grew up reading MAD, and it was an important voice in making fun of the current world. I hope it returns to that someday.

Annepackrat4 karma

How are you this National Moldy Cheese Day?

Did you ever think MAD would have such an impact on pop culture as it has?

Feel free to give Snappy answers to my Stupid Questions.

Could you draw a caricature of Pence with a fly on his head?

Art4MAD8 karma

Hi Anniepackrat!

It's National Moldy Cheese Day? What am I doing sitting here answering all these furshlugginer questions when I should be celebrating???

MAD was a huge pop culture phenomenon before I was even born, so I never thought it would be otherwise.

SmellyRapscallion4 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! Long time fan here! Have you considered doing a Master Class on caricature artwork?

Art4MAD6 karma

Up until COVID, I was traveling doing in person caricature workshops. COVID has unfortunately put a kibosh to the in-person stuff. With that being said, I am currently putting together an online caricature course. I hope to have it out by the end of the year!

flappingteats4 karma

First, congratulations on inspiring generations of people to think outside of the square and take solace in comedy. I'd be curious to know what your relationship was like with Sergio Aragones, his personality from a personal standpoint. Also, given how influential MAD was in the 80's/90's whether you feel it can evolve to similar heights of ubiquity and if so, what it would take to get there. What kind of art do you think is necessary in the future we are walking into?

Thanks in advance and for inspiring me to lean into art and comedy my entire life. I successfully made a life of it and you, Sergio Aragones, Sam Keith and David Shrigley helped get me there through your collective unapologetic expression of breaking the rules and finding comfort in the absurd. Thank you.

Art4MAD6 karma

Sergio is larger than life. He speaks five languages. He was the Mexican equivalent of Navy Seal. And he is probably the most talented cartoonist I have ever known.

I don't think a magazine can ever be as influential as MAD was back in the day. MAD would have to find a new venue outside of publication to reach the success it once had. I believe the same kind of art could find success in the future. Art that finds the absurdities in real life and ridicules it.

Thank you for the kind words! It really means a lot to me to know my work has had a significantly positive impact on someone.

flappingteats3 karma

Can't thank you enough for replying so thoughtfully Tom. What you mentioned about Sergio, makes a lot of sense. I used to watch him draw in videos and the speed was just bewildering. A beast of the highest aptitude it seems.

I'm so grateful to have met some of my art heroes. Sam Keith and Kim Jung Gi, I have let them know how much they helped me early on in my journey and now I'd like to think I can add you to that list. Your ability to bring joy through illustration is unparalleled in my opinion. I went on to become a character animator for feature films, a 10 year career that seeded the best of friends and gave me purpose.

Thanks again and excited for your new projects. Those memories of picking up a new MAD magazine as a kid have now been crystallized. Appreciate you making them possible.

I know you're gonna get a slew of caricature requests but I just had to get one in there. Don't feel obliged as I know you'll be inundated but a caricature of Sergio Aragonés done by you would be something special.

Anyway, thanks again for turning up today and all the very best with you and your future endeavors.


Art4MAD5 karma

Lucky for you I've already done one of Sergio!. This was for a "roast" of Sergio at a cartoonists event, hence him standing on a bonfire.

Charlene (Sergio's wife) usually hates caricatures of Sergio, but she enjoyed this one so much, I ended up giving them the original.

uUpSpEeRrNcAaMsEe3 karma

Is there going to be more little line drawings in future editions in the margins like Sergio used to do?

Art4MAD7 karma

If you mean in future editions of MAD, yes but not new ones. They are reprinting the original marginals along with the reprinted material in MAD. If you mean in our CLAPTRAP book, no. Doing marginals would be duplicating too much of the MAD format, and that might get us a call from the WB lawyers. The comic book style movie parody has been done by many other publications like Cracked, Crazy, Sick, etc. That is a genuine genre that no one can claim to own the rights to. However things like the marginals are uniquely MAD.

Pink_Monkey3 karma

Hello sir!

Were there ever any people, topics, or ideas that were on a “do not touch” list or anything like that? I’m assuming Allah was on a list like that ...

If so, what was the reasoning?

Art4MAD12 karma

I would say not specifically, but MAD never did victim humor. MAD never punches down with its humor.

00101101001110113 karma

Tom, we love your work! What digital apps are you using most frequently these days? Also, are you using the iPad Pro for drawing or painting at all?


Art4MAD3 karma

I almost exclusively use Photoshop. I've experimented with Clip Studio and Procreate as well. I have an iPad Pro, but really haven't used it for drawing or painting. I use a Wacom Cintiq for the digital stuff!

itsatrueism3 karma

Do you worry ?

Art4MAD5 karma

What, Me Worry?

twigcase3 karma

Hey Tom - as an illustrator myself (insert Dafoe.jpg) what is your process and how has tech changed it? What does your setup consist of?

Art4MAD3 karma

Early on, back in the late 90's, I realized computers were going to be a huge part of illustration. I taught myself digital coloring and painting in photoshop using an early graphics tablet device.

My current setup consists of:

-iMac Pro

-32" Wacom Cintiq

-Latest version of Photoshop

dizzyhobo3 karma

Hey Tom, was there ever a drawing you pitched that you thought would be turned down but ended up making it into print?

Art4MAD10 karma

I did pitch a gag once, that I thought would never make it, but actually did. It was for the Stranger Things cover for MAD. I wanted to have the booger coming out of Alfred's nose, like the blood coming out of Eleven's nose. They actually liked the idea!

TDRichie3 karma

Are there any faces that you find especially fun to caricature? Do you take more pleasure in caricaturing people you like, or people you dislike?

Art4MAD3 karma

Hi TD Richie! The more "unique" the face, the more fun it is to caricature. That doesn't necessarily mean having outrageous features. It just means they have a very unique look. That might mean expression as much as having a big nose. Whether I like or dislike the subject has little to do with the caricature. I am usually serving a narrative in my work, so if the story or whatever I am doing the caricature for is critical of the subject, I will do a "meaner" caricature, but if it's not a critical piece my caricature can be more fun and whimsical rather than derogatory.

rip19803 karma

YAY! I have an almost unbroken set of mad magazines. Currently getting them in order and back fill any gaps and upgrade some of the rattier ones. Unfortunately one of mine (single digit issue) is in basically relic condition so gotta hunt for a better one. ...What? Me Worry? Just got Dec 2020 in the mail.

Art4MAD3 karma

Very cool. I have a pretty good run myself but only a few of the early comic book issues, and all of them are all in pretty rough shape. Readable though. That's all that matters.

Spartylives2 karma

Wow, that Star Wars parody is incredible. It seems like I notice more & more details the longer I look at it.

Two questions: Do you have a favorite drawing that you've done over the years? Is there something you haven't drawn yet that you really want to do in the future?

Art4MAD5 karma

My recent favorites were the two pieces I did for Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".

TV Guide seen in the movie

The MAD Cover

The Watchmen series on HBO! That would have been a lot of fun to put together.

Poobeard762 karma

Why you mad, bro?

Art4MAD2 karma

I'd rather be MAD than sad...

kfree20162 karma

Who were your major influences? Thx.

Art4MAD2 karma

Hi kfree2016! Early on it was kids comics like the Carl Barks Disney Duck comics and Harvey comics. Batman was my favorite superhero so artists like Carmine Infantino that drew him in the late 60's early 70's were among my early influences. CC Beck's Captain Marvel also. Later MAD artists like Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, and Wally Wood would make big impressions on me, as well as sci-fi/fantasy artists like Frank Frazetta and Barry Winsor-Smith on the serious side. Even later caricaturists like Al Hirschfeld, Sebastian Krüger, Sam Viviano, Angelo Torres, and David Levin would be influences on my work.

Competitive_Ad_28902 karma

How has Covid affected your work? I know a lot of your convention appearances and workshops were cancelled, but as a studio illustrator have you lost business due to the virus? Loosing Mad must have been something as well. Also if you are taking requests for celebrities, Shawn Mendes has an interesting face.

Art4MAD3 karma

Hi Competitive_Ad_2890! Yes Covid has taken a bite out of my income, like so many people. I still have two caricature art concession businesses at theme parks here in MN. One never opened this summer and another closed in March and partly reopened in August but at a fraction of the traffic. I also had been traveling the world doing caricature workshops and that has been shut down as well. My studio work has not changed much since I've always worked in isolation at home!

lukedimewalker2 karma

Hey Tom,

I'm a Fan of your stuff for at least a decade or so. I think I haven't missed a blog post on Richmonds Mad blog for eons and the greatest things to look at are your caricature workshop announcement pages (where you put all the faces of the upcoming participants) - those are INSANE. You're just FANTASTIC at bringing out the personal traits of those average joe guys in the pictures. Is there any secret ritual before you start? Are you using just one pic as reference for those ? How many years did it take you to feel you're becoming really really good ?

(aside question: what is (was? since you seem to be injured) you bench press max?

Art4MAD5 karma

For those wonder what lukedimewalker is talking about, I always draw a poster illustration with caricatures of myself and of all the participants in each of my caricature workshops, and then they get a print of it as part of the workshop swag. I have them send me multiple pics of themselves. I always ask for a front. profile and 3/4 view shot, plus just one or two of them in a natural expression. I base the caricature one one single photo, but use the others so I can "learn" the face, and lighting or odd angles don't fool me on what their features really look like. Photos can be deceiving. It's best to have multiple pics at different angles for the full story of a face. I'm still trying to get really, really good... so 54 years and counting.

As for the bench press, my PR was 405lbs. I'd be lucky to put up 270lbs right now!

lukedimewalker2 karma

Thanks for the answer. You >are< really good. (I draw myself (comics) and it's clear that one gets better over time. But some guys are on such a stellar level that you wanna throw your brush away .... *sob* Yeah Mort Drucker was a god and you're one too. Maybe Sebastian Krüger could be included in this league too (but not sure)


Art4MAD2 karma

No matter how good you are, there is always someone better. All artists need a good dose of insecurity or they never improve, but you can't let that insecurity become so strong it handicaps your growth. I have always felt that I can be confident in the work I do today, but if I am doing that same level of work tomorrow I will be disappointed. I look back at the work I did early in my career and cringe. Looking at my early work for MAD today, I see things I think were poorly done and I would do a much better job on today. That's a good thing.

HonorableJudgeIto2 karma

Thanks for doing this. Can I ask how you think MAD Magazine will survive the death of print? It's a fixture of Americana and I hope it does, but a lot of print magazines have not been able to make the jump to digital.

Art4MAD3 karma

Hi HonorableJudgeIto! Arguably MAD has not survived the death of print. It went from printing all new material 12 times a year in 2009 to printing 6 issues a year with 99% reprinted material in 2020. MAD has had (and still has) a digital version for a long time now, but people are used to consuming their content via feeds in small doses these days, not in magazine format. MAD is also an illustration heavy publication. That's expensive and time consuming to produce. Maybe MAD could become a meme feed somehow, but then it would no longer be MAD.

PoliticsPog2 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! What was your favorite fan interaction that you've had over the years? Also, I see you said you're taking some requests. Would you be able to do a full body one of Alfred E. Neuman as the Reddit Snoo? I think that would be awesome to see!

Art4MAD2 karma

Hi PoliticsPog! My favorite fan moment was when I was at a convention and a group of cosplayers came up dressed as Alfred E and the Spies (including the Grey Spy) and all got my picture with them! I'll see if I can draw a quick one of the Alfred Reddit Snoo!

PoliticsPog2 karma

Really? That's amazing! I would assumed that people would cosplay as Alfred more often than the other more regular MAD characters, but never the Spies! Can't wait to see what you do with the quick draw!

adam_demamps_wingman2 karma

Whose work in MAD did you admire the most? Thanks.

Art4MAD5 karma

That's almost impossible to answer. Mort Drucker was the master of caricature and the movie/TV parody. Jack Davis was the greatest action/movement/physical cartoonist maybe ever, Wally Wood was a virtuoso of light and shadow, and could draw virtually anything and make it his, Will Elder's work was just plain hilarious to look at, and he was the King of Chicken Fat gags. Sergio Aragonés is the master of the pantomime cartoon. Harvey Kurtzman was a visual comedic savant. The list of masters that worked for MAD goes on and on.

That said, there is one MAD contributor who I consider maybe the greatest pure cartoonist who ever put pen to paper and whom I admire the most- Al Jaffee. He was as great a writer as he was an artist, and he came up with some of the features that became the greatest highlights of the magazine over an amazing career. His pure creativity seemed to be a bottomless well, and there was nothing he could not do. I do not use the term "genius" lightly. Al Jaffee is a cartooning genius. It's a shame he retired because he was just getting the hang of it.

Rabbitsister2 karma

Hi Tom! Firstly it’s so cool to see you doing an AMA! Back in 2011, I interned with you at Valley Fair in MN! You’re an amazing teacher, I’ve gotten several gigs because of what you taught me! Are you still in MN and working with the local art students in your caricature business?

Art4MAD2 karma

Thanks!! Yes! Still here in MN. Valleyfair never opened this summer but usually we have a few students in the crew.

johnnylongpants12 karma

You rock dude! Your work has inspired at least a generation of hobby artists, like myself. I love your caricature style as positive-not-mocking, but with great likenesses. I have studied and tried to emulate your work. Thank you! Now my question is, what do you do as a hobby when you are not drawing? Any particular side projects?

Great to know about your book; I look forward to buying it and practicing caricature more.

Art4MAD2 karma

Thanks for the kind words, johnnylongpants1!

When I’m not drawing I like to lift weights, run, and spend time with the family.

Manley19692 karma

What are some of your favorite movies, whether you want to parody them or not?

Art4MAD3 karma

Two personal favorites are Shawshank Redemption and Blade Runner.

More recently the Wonder Woman movie.

Torture-Dancer1 karma

How was the process to adapting the acid and dark mad (Damn that archie parody was sexual) to the TV format in the family friendly cartoon network? Why wasn't it in adult swim seeing it fitted better there? Why was it cancelled?

Speaking of caricatures requests, Sebastián Piñera (Chilean president who is going all buddy buddy with Trump and gave him a US flag fused with the chilean flag telling him that he can't think of Chile as another star in the flag, good way of giving up independence)

Art4MAD2 karma

The Cartoon Network show was fun to work on. Sergio and I were the only two regular MAD Magazine contributors who were credited on the show. Yes, the art was necessarily simplified but that was more for animation purposes. Since I just drew images for them it was the writers of the show that come up with the topics and gags and had to be "family friendly".

I think it was cancelled because the show had very little merchandise/licensing tie in possibilities. They made sure it hit 100 episodes so it was able to be syndicated, and then cancelled it. It was actually a high rated show even when they stopped making it.

PhonedZero1 karma

I don't read Mad much any more but it was a constant presence in my teen years and early adulthood, so much so that i carried my collection of over 100 issues halfway across the country at one point. I am a huge Bill Gaines fan and his contributions to the medium despite his ham fisted treatment of some artists, if it weren't for him we wouldn't have comic books today.

Does Sergio Aragones ever show up, looking lost, drawing Groo or other margin doodles around the office?

Art4MAD3 karma

Sergio has never been lost. He is always exactly where he intends to be.

BloodChildKoga1 karma

I've always loved the style of caricature, I feel like it's a medium where you can tell a story with just an image so well. What was it, for you, that drew you to caricature over other styles?

I've always been curious what a caricature of a hamster would look like, might that be my request? :D

Art4MAD3 karma

Hi BloodChildKoga! I discovered a love of caricature when I got a summer job drawing them at the theme park when I was a freshman in college. Before that caricature wasn't really on my radar.

rda77721 karma

Hey Tom Richmond! I have 3 questions/requests for you today. 1. How much would it cost for a Caricature of me? 2. I think that a Mandalorian Caticature would be interesring (Baby Yoda, IG, and Mandalorian 3. What is your favorite piece of work you have done?

Art4MAD4 karma

  1. How much you got?

  2. Here is a piece I did of Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian awhile back!

  3. That's like asking who is your favorite child. If I had to choose, it would be the Mort Drucker tribute piece I recently did for MAD.

jackSeamus1 karma


Art4MAD5 karma

I think I'll steer clear of political stuff here. Sorry.

BillyReid1 karma

Tom, I’m a HUGE fan of your work. If Claptrap is a success, is it possible we might see other regular MAD contributors in future books? I’m really excited about this collaboration with Desmond.

Also, would you be willing to do a caricatureof me?

Art4MAD5 karma

If CLAPTRAP is successful, we'll certainly make another volume. There is no current plan to have other contributors in future books, but it's something to consider.

Here is the caricature!

SarcasticAgreeance1 karma

Tom, thank you for doing this. Our family will be supporting your book. Hopefully his can be a regular thing.

How often could you and Desmond put out these compilations of new material? We’d definitely pay for a subscription.

Is this photo of our daughter worthy of a drawing?

Art4MAD1 karma

Hi SarcasticAgreeance! A LOT of work goes into one of those parodies. Des and I are doing 10 of them for CLAPTRAP and we will have stretch goals that could add up to two more, but that would probably be the limit we could do in 12 months, which is our target for publication. We could probably do one of these every 18 months or so. That said, we need to fund and get the first book out before planning any new volumes!

ddrucker1 karma

My last name is Drucker, but unfortunately I’m not related to the late Mort Drucker. Am I right in thinking that he was one of the best in your team of artists? What was he like to work with?

Art4MAD3 karma

The "Usual Gang of Idiots" at MAD are all freelancers, so we never really "work" together. However Mort has been a mentor to me for a long time. He encouraged me to submit my work to MAD back in the late 90's, sponsored me for membership in the National Cartoonists Society, and was a great source of inspiration for me both personally and professionally. We've been able to get together many times over the years. If you are interested in the story of how we got to know each other, it's here.

pregnantbaby1 karma

Hi. just got here. I don't know if this was asked. But where does one go these days if they are a talented cartoonist? All the options seem to be dying and it makes me wish I was born ten years earlier. Can I send you my stuff so I feel validated? I'm this close to submitting to the New Yorker

Art4MAD1 karma

That depends on what kind of work you do. There are still traditional opportunities for cartoonists, but less than there used to be. If you are a gag cartoonist, there are still publications out there that buy gag cartoons like the New Yorker. Check the latest issue of The Artist's Market for other possible clients. These days mny cartoonists are creating by doing webcomics and building their own audiences, doing Patreons, crowdfunding, etc. In that respect it's an exciting time to do be a cartoonist. You create your own opportunities.

potatomaster_721 karma

How will you guys choose the dumbest things of 2020? There is too much to choose from!

Art4MAD2 karma

My understanding is that MAD will not be doing the "MAD 20" this year nor in the future. They are really only going to be almost all reprints from now on. Probably for the best... as you say there were too many insanely dumb things in 2020 to choose from!

GibberingAnthropoid1 karma

Is CLAPTRAP going to be a one-off or do you see it possibly turning into a magazine, some day?

Is it going to be available in e-book/electronic form? [And perhaps 'some day' in audiobook form... ;) ]

As a humorist, how do you straddle the line between jokes that are visual gags vs. 'well written jokes' - when you are 'thinking up'/writing/formulating/creating one of these parodies? (Is this[creating a parody] mostly a solo process or are there multiple writers & illustrators who collaborate on one of these efforts?)

Art4MAD1 karma

Definitely not a magazine, but we could do another volume. Possibly some TV parodies!

We're currently discussing an eventual digital version, but we definitely have an audiobook ready to hit the market soon!

There are two types of gags as an artist on a movie/TV parody I'm responsible for. The first is selling the gag that is part of the script, in other words there are jokes in the word balloons that I have to visually "sell" that reinforces the joke and/or visually describes the joke. The second are background gags or "chicken fat" that have nothing to do with the written jokes, and are purely visual.

elderrugg1 karma

Do you ever start with the head shape first or the nose or the most notable characteristic?

Art4MAD2 karma

Always head shape!

WulliesTime1 karma

Do you think you'll outlive Jaffee?

Art4MAD3 karma

I’d not put any money on it.

need_a_venue1 karma

How do you do a caricature of people in helmets? Can you draw Boba Fett or the Mandalorian?

Art4MAD2 karma

Helmets are helmets, but you can exaggerate their size or certain aspects of them I guess. You "cartoon them up" somewhat.

Competitive_Ad_28901 karma

One other question, I know you said your coronacature commissions had a lot of interest , may I ask how much interest was a lot?

Art4MAD2 karma

I had a newspaper article written about the coronacatures. I also received hundreds of positive messages!