Wild Will

Will Elder more or less invented Mad Magazine and modern graphical satire. His art had a “breathtaking immaturity.” [Link]

Elder was a master of an art beloved by kids and despised by their parents for its almost-criminal juvenility. Along with his childhood lunchroom buddy Harvey Kurtzman, the founding editor of Mad, Elder was a primary creator of the gleefully rude, perennially adolescent, unaffected smart-aleck humor that would forever be thought of as the sensibility of American youth. Withhis art for Mad, for Panic, for lesser-known humor magazines like Trump and Help! and, finally, for Playboy, Elder found a window to the junior-high-school soul and chucked rocks through it, exposing that teen spirit in all its confused, hyperactive, self-absorbed glory and scariness. Earlier comic-book artists like Joe Shuster and Bob Kane may have invented the superhero, but Will Elder made possible “Superbad.”

Author: Jon Lebkowsky

Digital culture maven, co-operator, writer, activist, enzyme.