Balls of Death, by Duck Edwing
'The Balls of Death'. 

Don Edwing, nicknamed "Duck" Edwing, was one of Mad's "usual gang of idiots". He worked half a century for the magazine, from 1962 until 2012, both as a writer as well as an illustrator. He wrote gags for Don Martin and, between 1987 and 2007, for 'Spy vs. Spy'. His own gag comics are recognizable due to bulbous-nosed characters and black comedy. Outside Mad, Edwing was additionally a scriptwriter for the newspaper gag comics 'Lancelot' (by Frank Ridgeway and Paul Coker (1970-1972), 'Horace and Buggy' (drawn by Paul Coker, 1971) and Bob Thaves' 'Frank and Ernest'. In the Swedish magazine Herman Hedning, Edwing published the gag comics 'The Balls of Death', 'Super Sock' and 'The Super Family'. Despite his long career, Edwing was somewhat of an unsung hero. Most of his work was done as an anonymous scriptwriter. His own graphic career started rather late, from 1975 on. Still, his work is fondly remembered by any longtime Mad reader between the 1980s and 2010s. 

Early life and career
Don Edwing was born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York. Like many cartoonists he enjoyed drawing as a child. He ranked Don Martin and Alex Ross as his favorite comic artists, while citing 'Sherlock Holmes' author Arthur Conan Doyle as his favorite novelist. Edwing briefly served in the U.S. Navy, but eventually rolled into the comics industry. He published his first cartoon in Harvey Kurtzman's short-lived magazine Help! (1960-1965). Other cartoons ran in Look, The Saturday Evening Post and Hugh Hefner's Playboy. 

Edwing used the name "duck" as his pseudonym and often drew a tiny duck in the final panel of his cartoons. Continuing the joke, he also named his wife Claire 'Cluck'. The artist often gave different explanations why he picked out the name "duck". Since his full name is "Donald", he sometimes claimed it was a nod to Donald Duck. Other times he pointed to his favorite comedians The Marx Brothers, who have a famous "Why a Duck?" comedy routine in their film 'The Cocoanuts' (1929) and also made a movie titled 'Duck Soup' (1933). Sometimes he gave the simple answer that ducks are simply inherently funny animals. Interviewed in Mad XL#20 (March 2003), Edwing also revealed that one time he and Al Jaffee were sitting in an outdoor café in Europe, when Jaffee said: "I've come to the conclusion that 'duck edwing' is a verb."

'Three Days of the Condom' (Mad #366, February 1998).

Mad Magazine
In April 1962 Edwing made his debut in Mad's 70th issue. He would stay there for five decades, even though the majority of his work was done as a writer, rather than a comic artist. He penned gags, ideas, stories and articles for many of Mad's regular illustrators. From issue #157 (March 1973) on, Edwing wrote many advertisements for subscriptions to Mad, usually under the title "Why KILL yourself... just because you missed the latest issue of Mad?" The cartoons typically featured people attempting suicide in far-fetched and humorous ways, like dressing up as a banana and then entering an ape cage.

1975 proved to be a turning point in Edwing's career. In July of that year he drew his first comic strip for the magazine, 'A Mad Look at Sea Burials', which appeared in its 176th issue. One issue later he also started a collaboration with Mad's "maddest" artist, Don Martin, for whom he would write many of his most classic gags. Martin had a strong impact on Edwing's own comics, both in goofy characters, odd onomatopeia, mad situations and his one-page gag format. By the time Martin left Mad in 1988 over a pay dispute, Edwing was his natural successor. Edwing also sometimes illustrated scripts by Frank Jacobs

Spy vs. Spy
In 1987, Edwing also emerged as the new scriptwriter for the long-running pantomime gag comic 'Spy vs. Spy' in Mad, after the original artist Antonio Prohias retired. Edwing left the artwork to new artists like Bob Clarke, Dave Manak and Peter Kuper. With Manak, he also made a 'Spy vs. Spy' Sunday comic, which ran for 39 weeks through Tribune Media Services in 2002. Edwing continued writing for 'Spy for Spy' in Mad Magazine until 2007. 

'A Rascally Religious Ruse' (Mad #328, June 1994).

Tales From the Duck Side
Most of Edwing's cartoons in Mad increased from the 1980s on, where they ran under the header 'Tales From the Duck Side'. Starting with issue #443 (July 2004), Edwing became a regular gag artist for Mad's Fundalini pages, where his contributions eventually received the subtitle 'Duck Droppings' from issue #463 (March 2006) on. He had used this pun for the first time in issue #417 (May 2002). 

Edwing's comics had no real recurring characters. One exception was the Ventriloquist Priest. Like his name implies, he fools churchgoers by acting as if God or some religious statue spoke to them, while in reality he is a skilled ventriloquist. Between issue #353 (January 1997) and #376 (December 1998) Mad irregularly featured Edwing's 'The Masked Mountie and His Wonder Dog Biscuit'. The masked crusader always came up with a plot to defeat the villain of the week, but usually ended up dismembering himself or suffering other painful torture. Otherwise, most of Edwing's characters are nameless, identical-looking chubby little men and women with big round noses. Recurring themes are gags about human-devouring monsters, cannibals, blind people, torture cellars and executioners. Apart from these black comedy topics, Edwing also loved ridiculing superheroes. 

His work was collected in several paperbacks, namely 'Don Edwing's Mad Bizarre Bazaar' (1980, with a foreword by his mentor Don Martin), 'Mad Book of Almost Superheroes' (1982), 'Mad Variations' (1984), 'Don Edwing's Mad's Bizarre Biz' (1987), 'Mad's Sheer Torture' (1988), 'Mad Fantasy, Fables and Other Foolishness' (1989), 'Duck Edwing's MADventures of Almost Superheroes' (1990), 'Duck Edwing's Mad Bizarre Blast' (1991), 'Mad Disasters' (1992) and 'Mad's Creature Presentation' (1993). He illustrated scripts by Dick DeBartolo for 'Mad Murders the Movies' (1985), a paperback full with parody comics of 'Gone With The Wind', 'The Exorcist', 'The Maltese Falcon', 'The Phantom of the Opera', 'Mutiny on the Bounty', 'Frankenstein', 'Robin Hood' and 'The Wizard of Oz'. 

Cover illustrations for Mad's Bizarre Bazaar (1980).

Apart from Mad, Edwing also wrote some gags for Frank Ridgeway and Paul Coker Jr.'s daily comic 'Lancelot' (1970-1972). Distributed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association, 'Lancelot' revolved around a lazy husband who lets his wife do all the hard work. 

Horace and Buggy
Edwing and Coker also created 'Horace and Buggy' (1971), a newspaper gag comic distributed by the McNaught Syndicate. It featured humorous situations starring insects, but never caught on. After six months the series was canceled. 'Horace and Buggy' should not be confused with the 'Woody Woodpecker' character Dr. Horace N. Buggy.

Other publications and activities
Edwing also wrote gags and ghosted some episodes of Bob Thaves' newspaper comic 'Frank and Ernest'. Edwing's own cartoons also appeared in the Swedish comic magazine Herman Hedning, based around Jonas Darnell's popular comic character of the same name. In this foreign magazine Edwing drew the superhero parodies 'The Balls of Death', 'Super Sock' and 'The Super Family'. Edwing also invented the 'Golden Gator Award', a small sculpture of an alligator, intended for the wives of cartoonists. 

Final years and death
Edwing's final contribution to Mad appeared in issue #515 (June 2012). Health problems forced him into early retirement. He passed away in 2016. 

'Scenes so bad they didn't even make the dvd: Spider-Man' (Mad #424, December 2002).

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