Balls of Death, by Duck Edwing

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. His drawings are instantly recognizable due to their bulbous-nosed characters. Edwing had a penchant for black comedy and many of his gags poke fun at executioners, cannibals, blind people and human-devouring monsters. Another favorite target were superheroes, whom he ridiculed by the score. Edwing nicknamed himself "duck" and always drew a tiny little duck next to his signature or in the final panel of his gags. Continuing this running gag he also nicknamed his wife Clair "Cluck". Despite his long career, Edwing was somewhat of an unsung hero. Most of his contributions to the comics universe and Mad in particular were done as an anonymous scriptwriter. Only in the 1980s did he start to draw and write more of his own comics on a regular basis. But even then his work is fondly remembered by any longtime Mad reader in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. 

Don Edwing was born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York. Like many cartoonists he enjoyed drawing as a child. He published his first cartoon in Harvey Kurtzman's short-lived magazine Help! (1960-1965), but it was in Kurtzman's former magazine Mad, where his career really started to blossom. 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 comics artist. He penned gags, ideas, stories and articles for many of Mad's regular illustrators, such as Joe Orlando, Wally Wood, George Woodbridge, Bob Clarke, Jack Davis, Paul Coker, Frank Frazetta, Jack Rickard, Sergio Aragonés, John Pound, Bob Jones, Dave Manak, Richard Williams, Irving Schild, Peter Sun, Tom Bunk, Michael Paraskevas, Monte Wolverton, Desmond Devlin, V.J. Mercado, James Bennett, Peter Kuper, Angelo Torres, Mark Frederickson, C.F. Payne, Sam Viviano, Hermann Meija, Al Jaffee, James Warhola, David P. Levin, Mark Stutzman, Gary Hallgren, Sam Sisco, Arie Kaplan, Patrick Merrell, John Caldwell, Ray Alma, Harry North Esq. and John Kerschbaum


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

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. Most of his work was published under the title 'Tales from the Duck Side'. Around the same time he also emerged as the new scriptwriter for 'Spy vs. Spy' after the original artist Antonio Prohias quit in 1987. Edwing left the artwork to new artists like Bob Clarke, Dave Manak and Peter Kuper, though. With Manak, he also made a 'Spy vs. Spy' Sunday comic, which ran for 39 weeks through Tribune Media Services in 2002.


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

While Edwing occassionally published comics in Mad in the late 1970s, his productivity only started to increase from the early 1980s on. He sometimes illustrated scripts by Frank Jacobs, but was perfectly capable of writing and drawing his own material too. 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). 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'. 

Apart from Mad, Edwing also wrote some gags for Frank Ridgeway and Paul Coker Jr.'s daily comic 'Lancelot' (1970-1972) and Bob Thaves' newspaper comic 'Frank and Ernest', for whom he occasionally did some pencil work. Together with Coker, Edwing also created 'Horace and Buggy' (1971), a newspaper gag comic about insects which ran for six months. Edwing's own cartoons also appeared in Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Hugh Hefner's Playboy and the Swedish comics 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 Ball of Death', 'Super Sock' and 'The Super Family'.

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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