This morning my brother Bill got me thinking about Will Elder, the fantastic illustrator behind legendary MAD Magazine art and Little Annie Fannie as well as others. Here’s a link to his bio, I’m not going to attempt to fill in all the details: WILL ELDER
What made his stuff so great (other than the sheer brilliance of his style itself) was the addition of what he called “Chicken Fat”, a myriad of sight gags nestled within the illustration that was there for no reason but to make it a joy to pour your eyes over the page. Often, a series of panels depicting the same scene would change dramatically in regards to signs on the wall. critters scurrying about, you name it. It seems that I’m always in a rush to get a cartoon finished and have no time for such lofty goals. It’s a shame. I’d be a hell of a better cartoonist if I made the time!
In this one, just spend a little time on the details. This is from Goodman Beaver Meets S*perm*n.
He stated that his intentions with his drawings were to keep the viewer busy for a week. Folks would tell him in his later years that they were still finding new gags in his work.
Is that dome under their feet the top of the Empire State building?
Great stuff, eh? I’m hoping to get a copy of the new boxed set of Humbug available now. I haven’t seen much of that stuff.
Later on, as MAD transitioned into a Magazine and Elder had left, Mort Drucker did his best to continue with the chicken fat tradition. A master himself, Mort didn’t hold a candle to the king of chicken fattiness himself but he still kills. Here’s a panel from 1965’s Son of Mighty Joe Kong. I love the way Drucker drew Doris Day’s freckles.
You can see the many spaces Elder might have slipped something in here and there. Drucker adds just a couple, for example this little dude in the jet. What I like about Drucker is his obvious style of character and the way he would shift to a far more cartoony style with certain characters like the little jet dude.
Anyway, there you have a glance at some chicken fat! If you’re just learning about these guys, check them out! I envy your upcoming experience!