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“Humbug!” (Elvis In A MAD, CRAZY And CRACKED World!)

 

By Ger Rijff
 
 
Humbug topic 1 Humbug topic 2 From the mid 1950′s onwards a long list of satirical comics and magazine publications, feasted their (often sneering) humor on the Rock ‘n’ Roll generation of the day. The editors, writers and artists of titles such as MAD, CRAZY, CRACKED, HUMBUG and SICK, all had their musical roots in that of the Big Band era, the so called Crooner-days. The new sounds that had exploded onto American society in 1955, were alien to most of them.
 
Even though not many lengthy Elvis comic-stories (2 or more pages) are known to exist from the pages of these 50′s publications, there’s plenty of Elvis related stuff to be found. Especially in the stories about the kids in tight jeans and leather jackets driving adult America crazy!
In future episodes of this article I hope to present some of these illustrations, often drawn by Wally Wood, one of the greatest comic book artists ever!
 
 
We will start our exploration into the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll satire in December of 1956 with MAD magazine!

 
 

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001 002

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MAD | December 1956

MAD, with a huge teen audience, was the first to devote a 2 page story to Elvis.
‘Elvis Pelvis’ by artist supreme Jack Davis is a classic comic strip from 1956.
 
On the backcover we can see a drawing of Elvis, next to Dick Tracy and none other than Sgt. Bilko!
 
And on the titlepage we see that Elvis was part of the Mass Hysteria Department, for obvious reasons.

02a 02b

 
 

In recent years I’ve discovered where Davis got his inspiration from: the April 30, 1956 issue of LIFE magazine! Leave it to the Rijffster to dig up these facts!
Also included here are the two original photographs used by LIFE in their article:

03 04 A4

 
 

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HUMBUG | April 1958

HUMBUG was the first to spoof an Elvis movie: Jailhouse Rock. Art by Will Elder, an ex-employee from Mad magazine, who had joined up with writer/artist Harvey Kurtzman after he had turned his back on Mad, to start his own Humbug magazine.

A12 A13

A14 A15
 
 

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MAD (May 1958)

MAD | May 1958

Elvis and Lucy Ball ended up as the ears of Alfred E. Neuman, the ‘face’ on hundreds of MAD magazine covers since the 1950′s, on this may ’58 magazine.

 
 

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CRACKED | October 1958

CRACKED, on their backcover of a late 1958 edition, had their fun with G.I. Elvis.

CRACKED (October 1958) A11

 
 

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CRAZY (March, 1959)

CRAZY | March 1959

King Creole was next in line for a satirical make-over. CRAZY magazine was responsible for this 4 page strip.
 
No other Elvis movie since was turned upside down by one of the satirical magazine titles in future years.

A6 A7

A8 A9

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Alright. Here we go with some fresh MAD scans from the 60′s, all Elvis-related. Read ‘em and weep, the texts are hilarious!

img081 img082

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Mad nr. 63 (June 1961) 01

MAD | June 1961

Here we have a cool image of Elvis at his Bel-Air home at 565 Perugia Way reading the MAD magazine that is shown to the right!
 
Perugia Way 1
Perugia Way 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Below we can see the pages Elvis was checking out at the moment the photo was taken.

Mad nr. 63 (June 1961) 02 Mad nr. 63 (June 1961) 03

 
 

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Mad nr. 71 (June 1962) 01 - kopie

MAD | June 1962

Mad nr. 71 (June 1962) cover - kopieA brilliant parody, set during the era when Gangsters ruled the USA!
 
A lot of very familiar faces: Elvis, Bobby Darin, Dick Clark, Connie Francis, Tommy Sands, Bobby Rydell … count your lucky stars!
 
The artists often used existing photographs for their work. This photo of Elvis is an example of that. We can see Mort Drucker´s cartoon-version on the page below the photo, in the top right corner.
 
Elvis MAD

Mad nr. 71 (June 1962) 02 - kopie Mad nr. 71 (June 1962) 03 - kopie

Mad nr. 71 (June 1962) 04 - kopie Mad nr. 71 (June 1962) 05 - kopie

 
 

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A special thank you to CHAP COMMANDEUR for hooking me up with a copy of MAD 63 (from June, 1961)!

 
 

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25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Shaun #

    Thanks for this article. Absolutely fascinating. I love the cartoons, so well drawn.

    April 3, 2013
  2. Niels #

    Jummy! This is Fun! And a fascinating read!
    This great site Will open a whole new world for me!
    I’m looking forward to some quality internet time!

    Thanks a lot Gents!

    April 4, 2013
    • Great to have you back in the Elvis-fan world, Niels! We trust you will continue your
      research on old vinyl & shellacs, as you’ve been doing elsewhere … with me, and solo,
      long time ago. Keep us posted and when you have something new available, be sure
      to contact us. There’s many hungry fans out there waiting for you.

      April 4, 2013
  3. I loved those magazines as a kid.

    May 16, 2013
  4. I don’t think I can ever get used to the fact, the majority of Elvis fans I’ve
    experienced on various websites over the years, are simply not interested
    in the Art-form known as comic book illustration… A quick glance at their
    work, as shown in this topic, must be clear enough to anybody, they can be
    placed on the same level as the great painters of the 16th and 17th Century…

    May 26, 2013
  5. Paul Pearce #

    I love those old cartoon drawings. They are very well done but at the same time they are funny- exaggerating the way he looked for comic affect. I suppose this is were you get your inspiration from, Ger…….

    June 17, 2013
    • Ger Rijff #

      Wow! You’re number 5 taking the time to comment on this topic, Paul!
      Appreciated, mate. Five, out of the thousands who’ve visited this place since
      it went online, ain’t bad… But I’ll continue anyway. Comics from the 40s, 50s
      and 60s are my first and biggest love. Sold all my Elvis Sun records when
      it was needed to survive… but held on to my vintage comic books.
      Ahhh… that smell of 60 year old magazines…Goosebumps!

      June 17, 2013
      • Paul Pearce #

        Ger, such a shame you had to sell your original Sun 45′s…but thats life, has to be done if you need the money. Me, i’m gonna hold on to the two i’ve got for as long as possible.

        Anyway Ger, you’re a pretty good drawer yourself, i’ve seen some of your drawings in various books/mags over the years. My favourite one of yours is the teddy boy holding a mint copy of “Milkcow Blues”, were did i see that, can’remember now. I can see where you get your inspiration for your drawings from, those old 40′s and 50′s comic books. Cool!

        June 17, 2013
        • Ger Rijff #

          Not only the 5 Sun 45s, Paul… The 5 78s as well!
          And if that wasn’t bad enough already, four original
          signed publicity glossies from 1954/ 55 to top it off.
          Bitter memories , I tell you ! But one gets over it.
          I’m still around, proud father of an 18 year young
          boy, a 16 year old cat, and no wife to nag me.
          Freedom is a wonderful thing.

          The Sun Milkcow Blues Boogie cartoon you mention was done for
          Chris Giles, for inclusion in an ad featured in TMAHM, a couple of years
          ago. Haven’t done any cartoons ever since. The mind is willing,
          but the hand holding the pen isn’t…

          I was 6 when I got into Dutch ans American comic books. The little
          pocket money I got as a kid, back in the 50s, was used up on Elvis
          photo postcards and comic books. A good choice because in later
          years, both Elvis and comic books, would land me jobs as a cartoonist,
          and publisher of Elvis books. Life has been good to me. m

          June 18, 2013
  6. Josep #

    Ger and Bob : we really needed a site like this one !
    I’m browsing through all the topics you’ve uploaded so far, and it´s a constant pleasure for the eyes and mind.
    This site is the coolest !
    Thanks for everything ! Keep on rocking !!!

    June 19, 2013
    • Our pleasure, Josep.
      It’s a fun feeling being able to do what we like to do,
      and get good response from you people at the same time.
      Although there’s always room for more comments…
      Have a good weekend you all.

      June 21, 2013
  7. No matter the great drawing skills by Jack Davis, illustrating a million and one
    world famous personalities, his take on Elvis on the back cover of Mad # 30
    isn’t particularly good imo. That’s the reason I didn’t forward that back cover when
    we did the first chapter on Elvis in comics…
    Still, it’s a nice intro to the Pelvis strip. Thanks for adding.

    October 4, 2013
    • La déclaration de Benoit XVI témoigne de la justesse de l’observation du général de Gaulle : « la vieillesse est un nas&aage&nbup;frrquo;. Malheureusement, Benoît XVI ajoute aux difficultés de l’Afrique noire, éprouvée par l’épidémie de sida, les carences et les dérives des politiques de santé publique.

      March 18, 2017
  8. Craig Philo #

    Fascinating read, really astounded by some of the artwork and how the look and nuances of elvis were captured….interestingly Ger what’s your take on the recent comic book release graphic Elvis ? Does it hold any interest ?

    October 9, 2013
    • With all due respect to Stan Lee, ex boss of Marvel & brains behind this
      project, what I’ve seen of the graphic stories on the Internet, does nothing
      for me. The ( mostly) young artists have little to no clue how things looked,
      back in the 50s, imo. Neither have they got the artistic quality the old guys
      had, back when comic books were fun to read.

      October 10, 2013
  9. While in the Army in Germany, a journalist asked him how kept track on
    what was happening home, in the good ol’ USA? His answer was : “I read
    Mad magazine…!” Kool answer, EL !

    November 10, 2014
  10. Alan White #

    Great work Bob, superb and Mad artwork.

    November 11, 2014
  11. Gandoo #

    Well done Ger. Brilliant article.
    Brings back a lot of memories. May your website continue for a long time.

    Your Pakistani and Indian fans.

    November 12, 2014
    • Ger Rijff #

      Well, it’s Bob’s page/site … I’m only doing guest appearances nowdays … And it’s to Bob’s credit we get the topics in such great presentation. He’s unique. And I mean it!
      All that aside, you have no idea how big a lift I get reading comments from a fellow comic book fan such as you! The amount of visitors here every day is HUGE! But I will never ever get used to the fact SO FEW bother to send in a comment … Yours makes me very, very happy, Gandoo!

      November 13, 2014
  12. Pink&Black #

    Amazing, the stuff you guys come up with!

    November 16, 2014
  13. Kool straight forward presentation of the 5 pages by Mort Drucker, one
    of the greatest illusrators / cartoonists ever! Nobody could do Elvis like Mort did!

    January 17, 2015
  14. Norton McColl #

    What about the Elvis’ cartoons in Mad pocketbooks? Give me an email I would gladly send those I ‘ve got.

    April 26, 2015
    • Norton, the stories & artwork in the Mad pocket books are ALL reprints from the actual magazines. I have some myself, but would be interested in seeing what you have for possible inclusion in a future episode on Echoes..?!

      June 18, 2015
  15. memphismemories #

    I love the work everyone invested in Elvis, and it is Art!

    June 17, 2015
  16. Bob, nearly a year since the last comments appeared…Let’s try this summer for additional new stuff…that is, if we both have some energy left..? I still love this page to pieces, and
    it’s still unique!

    April 10, 2016

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