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Sergio Aragones of MAD magazine looks back at career

by Matthew Price Modified: April 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm •  Published: February 3, 2011

Considered one of the world’s fastest cartoonists, Sergio Aragones and his team had plenty to choose from for his entry in the book series “Mad’s Greatest Artists.” “Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Works” features cartoons from throughout the Mad Magazine artist’s career, dating back to the early 1960s.

“It was almost impossible to start choosing,” Aragones said in a recent phone interview. “I would have published it all … ‘The Complete Works,’ but since I’m still working for the magazine, that cannot be done.”

The 272-page book, published in late 2010, features cartoon stories such as “A Mad Look at the Olympics,” “A Mad Pictorial Look at the United States,” and “A Mad Look at UFOs.” The ongoing series “The Shadow Knows” featured characters whose true thoughts were revealed by the actions of their shadows.

“It was very interesting seeing the progress and the changes,” Aragones said, who was hired by the magazine at age 24, and continues to work there today.

Aragones is well-known for his wordless “marginals,” cartoons that run down the side of the magazine’s pages.

From “Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Works”
From “Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Works”

It wasn’t common to see wordless cartoons in the United States at that time, but Aragones convinced the powers that be at Mad to give him a shot drawing the marginal cartoons, replacing topical jokes that once were on the page borders.

“They said, ‘Let’s run him until he runs out of ideas,’” he said. “That was it. I’m still coming up with them.”

Aragones, who lives and works in Ojai, Calif., also co-created the barbarian parody “Groo, the Wanderer” with writer Mark Evanier. The character has appeared in more than 100 comic books and plans are in the works for more.

“I’m still doing it,” Aragones said. “I’m working right now on one issue of a crossover with Conan and Groo, and I’m … also doing ‘The Simpsons.’”

When Mad went bimonthly, Aragones said he received a lot of calls about taking on new projects.

“Right now I’m very busy,” Aragones said.

Aragones said he still enjoys the process of creating cartoons, and at age 73, has no plans to retire.

“Every day, I think jokes and ideas. And that’s part of my life, the sitting there to create, to try to make people laugh,” Aragones said. “And then the other part is sitting and drawing it, which is very comfortable … and time just flies. You’re doing something you like, and time flies.”

“Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Works,” published by Running Press, has a suggested retail price of $29.95.

- By Matthew Price
From Friday’s The Oklahoman

by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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