Mort Drucker, the cartoonist and caricaturist who helped satirize decades of pop culture in the pages of Mad magazine, died Wednesday, The New York Times reports. He was 91 years old.
No cause of death has been released, although Drucker’s friend John Reiner has confirmed his death. The National Cartoonists Society also confirmed his death, with member and illustrator Tom Richmond writing in tribute: “Death was a true master of the art of visual storytelling, and his work transcended the limits of the various applications of the comic medium. He could do everything from realistic comic book work to the most ridiculous drawings and everything in between. “
Drucker was a self-taught illustrator and freelance designer who joined Mad in 1956 and quickly took a regularly recurring song – film and television parodies – and made it a staple of humor magazine. His first was a parody of the court drama of the 1950s, Perry Mason, and over the next 50 years, he illustrated a total of 238, ranging from Star Wars and Saturday night fever at Yentl and Forrest Gump. His last film parody was published in 2008, a shipment of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian titled Yawnia’s Chronic Disease: Prince Thespian.
In a 2000 interview with Time, Drucker said he had drawn “almost everyone in Hollywood”. In a 2012 book about his work, he compared his illustration methods to the filmmaking process, saying, “I’m becoming the” camera “and I’m looking for angles, lighting, close-ups, big shots angles, long shots – just like a director does to tell the story in the most visually interesting way possible. “
Drucker was just as prolific outside the pages of the humor magazine. He illustrated coloring books (for children and adults), came up with the movie poster for George Lucas American graffiti and even caricatured the metallic Anthrax outfit on the back cover of his 1988 album, State of Euphoria. He also worked regularly as a political cartoonist, be it myriad of covers for Time (some of which are hung in the National Portrait Gallery) or projects like The JFK coloring book or the comic strip from the syndicated newspaper he worked on with Jerry Dumas and John Reiner, Benchmark, on a fictional assistant to Ronald Reagan.
But there was arguably no better testimony to the extent of Drucker’s influence, as well as the respect he even aroused among those whom he parodied, than when Michael J. Fox appeared on The Tonight Show in 1985 – at the height of his popularity – and said he knew he had succeeded “when Mort Drucker shot my head”.