Saturday, December 4, 2010

Elder Mad Man

Some artists of advanced age might feel that they’re too old to really make a mark in their field. The business belongs to the young, they might think.

Consider the career of Norman Mingo (1896-1980), Mad Magazine’s most celebrated cover artist. A veteran of the World War One, he painted his first Mad cover in 1956 at age 60.


And what a cover! It was the definitive portrait of the cheerful simpleton Alfred E. Neuman. Every Mad artist thereafter has been required to match Mingo’s version, and they agree: no one can top it. The painting sold at auction two years ago for more than 200,000 dollars.


Norman Mingo went on to paint well over a hundred classic covers for Mad, up until his death in 1980. His influence on the current generation of American picturemakers is right up there with Frank Frazetta, Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Chuck Jones, and Jim Henson. 
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The book “Mad Art” by Mark Evanier tells the story of Mingo and the other Mad artists.
Norman Mingo on Wikipedia  

12 comments:

Steve said...

As someone who turned 60 a few weeks ago, this post is unusually inspirational, leading me to think, "What, me worry?"

Pam Perras said...

Yup! It's difficult not to feel the race against time when you have a vision of where you want your skill level to be. As a sandwich generation artist, it's a challenge to keep all those balls in the air, but I can't help pursuing what I love! Just have to appreciate each moment. Thanks for the post!

Milek said...

Thank you for this! I am 29 and want to be an illustrator, and whenever I see someone who is 16 and already doing what I dream of I feel somewhat deflated. No I have this to keep me going :)

BB said...

Ei, thank´s for sharing this great story.
It´s always great to hear that one is never too late to start a carrer as an Artist.

Mark Harris said...

Great post James.
Here's to all the late bloomers!

Randall Ensley said...

Very Good James!

Tom said...

I couldn't have seen a more inspirational post than that this morning, James!

And that image! I swear it cracks me up every time. Talk about staying power. An icon!

Milek said...

btw, is it just me, or does that guy kinda looks like Dubya?

Dave Lebow said...

As a guy fast approaching 56 and much more aware of my own mortality than I was in my youth, this is an inspirational post.
I am very interested in Mingo's career preceding his success with Mad Magazine. I will definitely read his bio on Wikipedia.
As always your blog continues to be inspirational as well as educational.

Mark vanderVinne said...

Beyond all the incredible knowledge of art you share on this blog, you continue to also inspire us readers at the highest level. I have often wondered if I am getting too old at 44 to seriously have a career in the illustration field. My dream when I went to art school was to be a fantasy book cover artist, but real life took over and I landed a job as a designer/art director in the advertising field. I can now post this on my studio wall as a reminder that it truly is not too late. Thank you so much.

kdwmson said...

Thanks for this post. I am 54 and frequently feel my age is a hindrance to the perception of my creativity. This is good to know.

Steve Fanelli said...

Thank you for NOT giving us another "25 artist under 25" that seems to be the staple of art mags these days.