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A little tribute to Don Martin

I first discovered Mad Magazine and Don Martin in the mid-60's, when both had reached their top form. Fifteen years later my interest in them was diminishing, mostly my fault, perhaps. But in the meantime I had bought a big collection of Mad magazines and books, and Don Martin books, too. I still read them now and then, and have a good laugh.

Don Martin (1931-2000) changed his drawing style quite a bit during his productive time, which spanned almost fifty years. Perhaps the plots behind his drawings changed even more. He always created funny drawings, but it looks like he more and more relied on ideas that other writers gave him. When Don Martin was at his best every pane in his strips were logic steps in a drama that could be absurd, exaggerated and crazy, but always logical. Later on he mostly illustrated puns and gags, where only the last pane really counted. Then his strips could be almost boring.

Don Martin made fun of many things - American super heroes, radio and television people, advertizing, pop stars and much more. But as far as I know he never ventured into the field of political satire. The explanation may be this: Don Martin never made fun of recognizable individuals, such as politicians. In this way he differed very much from Mad Magazine, which had a lot of political satire in every issue.

Perhaps Don Martin had only this goal with his drawings: Making people laugh. But sometimes I suspect that he aimed a little higher - making people think. Look at the strip to the right. It is really a very appropriate comment on the environmental crisis we have created. When the shipwrecked man suddenly realizes (in the third pane) what he has done, it's too late. Thank you, Don Martin, for reminding us of how serious - and dangerous - the situation is!

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