Pondering the Pavement

April 9, 2020

A Fine Line

Filed under: Appreciation,cartoonists,In Memoriam,Uncategorized — cfilius @ 11:44 pm

 

MortDrucker_NYC2000

It’s sobering when an artist puts down their pen for the last time. The contagious enthusiasm over following their own line has ended. Mort Drucker, the unrivaled Artist’s Artist from MAD Magazine passed away last night at 91. He lifted the bar insanely high for anyone else wielding a pen for a living. He was the exceptional kid in the class that always ruined the grade curve for the rest of us. I can honestly say you would probably never meet anyone as kind, gentle or generous as Mort. He shared his talent and his time freely. He was a God who happily mingled with we common folk. He was humbled, genuinely moved, whenever anyone would flatter him on his work. As compliments would be hurled at him, one almost expected him to kick shyly at a pebble, uttering something like, “Aww, shucks, kid.” He was recognized for his work with the National Cartoonists Society Special Features Award (1985, 1986, 1987 AND 1988), the Reuben Award (1987), the NCS Medal of Honor (2015), and induction into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame (2017). He loved his profession and, more importantly, he loved anyone in the biz.

He autographed my copy of his book, “Whitefish Will Rides Again!” with such unassuming elegance: “A Fan.” Can you imagine? Those two simple words were such a beautiful gesture and they moved me greatly. They still do.

The last time I saw him was in 2015 when he was awarded the NCS Medal of Honor. I was standing by a bank of elevators just after the award ceremony, talking with someone, when the doors slid open. Mort was just standing there, unassumingly, with his hands clasped in front of him. As someone exited the lift, I looked at him and shouted, “Mort!” I promptly placed my hands together at chest level, as if offering a prayer, smiled and bowed. A gigantic genuine grin spread across his face as he placed his talented hands over his heart and returned the bow in kind. The doors shut and he was gone.

Damn. And now he is. His memory, his talent, live on, thankfully. Mort and the “usual gang of idiots” have been a massive influence on me, my work and my (alleged) sense of humor. God knows I am forever grateful. Later tonight, I’ll hoist a glass, toast to his memory and then dip my pen in his honor… just to see where my line will take me. I think he’ll like that… just fine.

DruckerBook

 

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