Paying Tribute to My Hero
I was reflecting on my current success and realized how much I owe my style to my hero Don Martin. I mention Don Martin in interviews and when I am talking with fans at comic cons and it saddens me when they ask me who he was. Don Martin was the greatest cartoonist who ever lived in my mind, and he was a huge influence on my drawing style, my humor and my drive to become a real cartoonist one day, creating my silly strips for my living.
Don began his career with Mad Magazine in 1956. He was immediately hired after sending in some samples of his work. The work he presented was no where near the quality of work he became known for. His lines were thin and the drawings were very tight. The powers that be at Mad told Don to loosen up, and loosen up he did.
Don Martin’s style stood out from the other artists running during the 60’s in Mad Magazine. I was lucky enough to find a stack of Mad Magazines from the 1960’s at a junk shop when I was a kid. I immediately fell in love with the art style of Don Martin, and that love is shown every time I grab a pen or a brush. Charmy’s Army is a tribute to Don Martin with every line I pull. The one lesson I learned from my studies of Don;s work and Don himself is to stay loose and have fun.
Don Martin had a magical way of drawing the eyes of his characters. They were huge and defined each character. For the longest time I copied Don’s eyes in every character I created. Eventually, I developed my own style which is a bit looser than the mannerism in which Drawn drew his eyes.
Don Martin had a long run with Mad Magazine but left in 1988 after a dispute over royalties of reprints. Don was extremely dedicated, turning down lots of freelance opportunities because he wanted his cartooning work to only support Mad Magazine. After his last strip ran in Mad Magazine, Don jumped ship to rival Cracked Magazine, billed as Crack’s Crackiest Artist… and slam at Mad Magazine who always bill Don as Mad’s Maddest Artist. Don would work at Cracked for 6 years before ending his brief run.
From 1988 to 1993, Don Martin launched his own comic strip, The Nutheads which was briefly syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate and later self-syndicated by Don Martin himself. This is what I am doing with Charmy’s Army, self-syndicating. Self-syndicating is tough but when you want something, you must grin, bear it and pay your dues.
Don has serious eye issues his entire life which is the worst condition anyone can have when they are an artist. Don even when through several surgeries due to the complications. During the latter years of his career, Don used a special magnifying glass to draw his comic strips. Unfortunately, Don passed away in 2000 at the age of 68.
Don influenced many cartoonists. I have so many people tell me that my work looks like Jeff Smith’s Bone. Jeff Smith, like me, was heavily influenced by the work of the great Don Martin.
If you have a chance, please look up Don’s work online. You will not be disappointed… you may even find yourself discovering your newest cartoon addiction.