Sergio Aragones, cartoonist extraordinaire, whose ink and pen work have been gracing the pages of Mad Magazine for almost 50 years now, celebrates his 75th Birthday today.
Hailing from Spain and born on September 6th, 1937, Aragones remains a master of the quick one and more paneled cartoons and is also one of the more groundbreaking cartoonists of his generation. His warped, clever, and irresistible style has been putting scores of fans into stitches with each new issue of Mad and has done over 12,000 cartoons for the long-running humor magazine. Aragones been called “The World’s Fastest Cartoonist” and he’s been hailed as prolific and brilliant.
The artist is best known for his “Mad Marginals,” mini one-shot cartoons interspersed throughout over the magazine – it gleefully makes one finding them (they can sometimes be rather minuscule) and reading them almost like discovering a second magazine in the issue of Mad. He also is well known for his Mad Looks At ______ series, in which he’s taken on everything from The Space Program (which was his first Mad article) to various films and movies, tackling the whole pop cultural spectrum. That series, with its wordless almost mired in pantomime style, and usually a few panels, remains not only still one of the highlights in the magazine, which is a decidedly different version today than the one decades ago, but also puts Aragones as one of the old school contributors still vivid in the magazine, an unconscious link to its past. Aragones has also sometimes done Mad Posters and even a few covers here and there, his most prolific output of that being during the mid 1960s.
The later side career of Aragones has also been in the comic book arena. Working with DC Comics for awhile, he did anthology stories and even comics based on the “kid” character of comedian Jerry Lewis. But it wasn’t until the 1982 release by Marvel Comics of Groo the Wanderer, a character concocted by Aragones and Mark Evanier in the late 1970s which didn’t see any fruition of a comic book release until said 1982, that Aragones had a new generation of fans who associated him with the comic. Still running and still popping up here and there, Groo became somewhat of a cult success, and for fans of Mad Magazine who read Groo, it was interesting to see Aragones work in full color and in an entirely different setting. Aragones has also done animation, his characters during the bumpers and titles and end credits of the 1980s NBC program TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes were also memorable, just for the sheer novelty of seeing the rarity of Aragones’ work come to alive, albeit animated.
His work has also netted him various artistic/cartoonist awards, an example being winning The Harvey Award a mindboggling nine times. Aragones continues to write and illustrate for Mad in addition to exhibitions of his work appearing in museums and his frequent appearances at comic conventions. He truly remains a sort of emperor to the humorous illustrators who were deeply influenced by his work, humor, style, and moxie and to the countless number of fans who have enjoyed the warped, wonderful, fun, inspiring, and especially highly original work, which still remains up to peak standard as much as ever. Happy Birthday, Sergio!