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

Co-wrangler of Plutopia News Network, cohost Radio Free Plutopia. Podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. Former editor/publisher, FringeWare Review; associate editor at bOING bOING and Factsheet Five; writer at Mondo 2000, 21C, Wired, Whole Earth Review, Austin Chronicle; sub-editor at Millennium Whole Earth Catalog; blogger at Worldchanging. Digital culture maven, podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. On The WELL, Cohost of VC (virtual communities), Media, and Civil War (.ind) conferences.