"Live a good life, and in the end, it's not the years in the life, it's the life in the years."

The Good Life cartoonist goes MAD

By on February 26, 2019 in Arts with 0 Comments

By Dan McConnell

After about 50 years of yearning to be one of MAD magazines “Usual Gang of Idiots,” as of Jan. 2, I achieved my dream. 

I started cartooning in 1980 with my Apple Andy weekly cartoon strip, went on to work for Marvel Comics as an inker, then did local political cartoons, and of course my 12 years of doing Then & NOW for The Good Life magazine. 

Subsequently, after 10 years of submitting gag cartoons to magazines and several trips to New York to submit work to Bob Mankoff at the New Yorker and Sam Viviano at MAD’s New York office, I finally hit pay dirt when MAD moved their offices to Burbank, CA. There’s Gold in those Hollywood hills! 

I contacted MAD Editor Allie Goertz on the internet and met her on a trip to New York during a Society of Illustrators meeting.

When I got home I submitted about 50 cartoons over the course of three or four months. 

Eventually, Allie suggested I become a part of the MAD morning crew, which is a quick way to submit directly to MAD online each day before 10 am. 

I did a few submissions there and I think the second or third submission was the Big Bird Box cartoon that parodied the Netflix movie Bird Box by exchanging the actors from the movie with Muppet characters. 

Subsequently there have been several more so I feel like it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime lightning strike that hit Paul Lander, the cartoon writer, and me. Our next big break-through is into the magazine itself, which is still published six times a year.

I became a member of the National Cartoonists Society on Sept. 12, 2012. I feel so fortunate to have become a member and to be able to rub shoulders with some of the best cartoonists in America and around the world.

At the NCS Reuben award events, I became friends with Nick Meglin, who held the raucous helm at MAD magazine for 40 years. He loved to tell stories and groups of us would gather around for his tall tales about artists and writers and life and of his vacation exploits with William Gaines, the founder of MAD. 

Those trips were wild and crazy adventures going to places like Cuba, Venice, Rome, Tahiti and Mexico. In Venice, Nick Meglin scrutinized his admission ticket to the Palace of the Doges. “What does it say?” he was asked. 

“It says,” answered Meglin, “you may have already won this palace.”

 While I’ve enjoyed being a regular idiot most of my life, it feels so excellent to finally be an authentic Idiot in the “Usual Gang of Idiots” who contribute to MAD. 

And especially since that gang was headed by my mentor and friend the late Great Nick Meglin for so many years.

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