comic art by Don Martin
Examples of Don Martin's eccentric onomatopeia. 

Don Martin was an American cartoonist and one of the most prominent and productive artists of Mad Magazine. He was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and attended the Newark Art School and the Philadelphia Academy of Arts. Among his graphic influences were James Thurber and Saul Steinberg. He also expressed admiration for Robert Crumb as a graphic artist, less as a gag writer.

He settled in New York and began his career doing illustrations for jazz records, postcards and the science fiction magazines Fantasy and Galaxy. He joined Harvey Kurtzman's Mad magazine in 1956 and his work was published in the magazine until 1988. Unlike other artists, Martin had his own section in Mad, called the 'Don Martin Dept.'.

Cartoon by Don Martin
'Mad Magazine'. 

Martin became one of the most important satirical comic makers of the United States, with characters like Fester Bestertester and Captain Klutz. He became legendary for his zany sound effects. American superheroes were a topic Martin especially liked to pick on. He left Mad in late 1987 after an argument with publisher William M. Gaines. He then worked with Cracked for six years, before launching his own short-lived title, Don Martin Magazine. He had a daily strip called 'The Nutheads' between 1989 and 1993, initially through Universal Press Syndicate, but later through self-syndication. One of the assistants on this series was Jack Bender.

The Frog Prince by Don Martin
'More Fairy Tale Scenes We'd Like To See' ('The Frog Prince'). From Mad Special #44 (Fall 1983). 

Failing eyesight forced him to reduce his production, but Martin remained active well into the 1990s. Martin, who had lived in Miami for most of his life, died of cancer in Coconut Grove, Florida, in the year 2000. 

Don Martin was a strong influence on humorous cartoonists such as Pirana, Kamagurka, Peter de Smet, Gerrit de JagerDuck EdwingSchwantz, Bill Plympton, John Kricfalusi, Bob CampJ.R. WilliamsEverett PeckRich PowellLee James Turnock, Peter Browngardt (his animated TV show 'Uncle Grandpa' is a direct tribute), Graeme MacKay and Lise Myrhe.

Original Don Martin watercolor dedicated to Lambiek. 

Series and books by Don Martin you can order today:


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