From Mad 298 by Rick Tulka
'Villains Awaiting Batman's Return to TV' (Mad #298. 1990).

Rick Tulka is an American cartoonist, best known as one of the "usual gangs of idiots" at Mad Magazine. He nevertheless considers himself to be a caricaturist and humorous illustrator, rather than a cartoonist. Tulka stands out because of his grotesque caricature work and hilarious exaggerations of people's behaviour. His longest-running series for Mad are 'Chilling Thoughts For The Future' (1996) and 'Six Degrees of Separation' (1997).

Early life and career
He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1955. He grew up reading Archie Comics and Mad Magazine. Among his graphic influences are Charles M. Schulz, Winsor McCay, Honoré Daumier, Al Hirschfeld, David Levine, George Woodbridge, Mort Drucker, Norman Rockwell, Bill Watterson, Hergé, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, Hans Holbein and Ben Sargent. Tulka studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the Art Students League of New York, after which he majored in illustration at Pratt Institute. In 1976 he became a professional illustrator and sold his first drawings to Cue Magazine.

Moonwalker by Rick Tulka
'Moonwalker' coloring book. 

Moonwalker colouring book
In 1988 Tulka was asked to provide drawings to a colouring book based on Michael Jackson's direct-to-video film 'Moonwalker' (a movie with production design by Mike Ploog). The colouring book project took about a year to see the light, because the King of Pop had a busy schedule and couldn't find time to take a look at Tulka's work. After receiving free tickets to one of his concerts in New Jersey, Tulka met the pop icon backstage. He was amused by his graphical portrayal and greenlighted the publication. Around the same time Blackthorne Publishing also released an actual 3-D comic book based on 'Moonwalker', illustrated by Abel Laxamana, but this unfortunately flopped.  

Mad Magazine
That same year Tulka made his debut in issue #282 (October 1988) of Mad Magazine. He didn''t always draw actual comics, but illustrated articles, most of which allow him to draw celebrity caricatures. Some of these do follow narrative sequences, though. For instance, he has made satirical drawings to several articles which compare phenomena from the past with the present, side by side.

Chilling Thoughts For The Future
In the same vein Tulka illustrated satirical predictions of what the not-too-distant future will bring us, which began with 'Why the 21st Century May Be Even Worse Than This One!' (issue #314, October 1992), written by Tom Koch, and the 'Chilling Thoughts For The Future' (issue #345, May 1996) series, written by Desmond Devlin.

Six Degrees of Separation
Tulka often collaborated with Mike Snider at Mad, with whom he co-created their best known ongoing series, 'Six Degrees of Separation', which first saw light in issue #363 (November 1997). It features satirical links between various celebrities, pop culture characters and phenomena. The links are visualized in six tiny cartoons, which are juxtaposed next to each other in the form of one chronological sequence. Together with Jeff Kruse Tulka was also responsible for the 'Spot Your Parents' feature (issue #390, February 2000), where various situations are shown depicting parents dealing with embarrassing situations such as divorce or explaining where babies come from?

Celebrity Cause-of-Death Betting Odds
From issue #514 (April 2012) until issue #529 (October 2014) he took over the 'Celebrity Cause-of-Death Betting Odds' page, where a celebrity is depicted and the most likely ways he or she might die are suggested, along with a ranking.

Six Degrees of Separation

'Six Degrees of Separation' (Mad #472, 2006).

Tulka has worked with many of Mad's scriptwriters and artists over the years, including Russ Cooper, Chris Hart, Dennis Snee, Matthew T. Smith, Desmond Devlin, Charlie Kadau, Tom Koch, Joe Raiola, John Prete, Frank Jacobs, Andrew J. Schwartzberg, Matthew A. Cohen, Barry Liebmann, Dave Berg, Lori Kolman, Sam Viviano, Greg Leitman, Greg Theakston, Barry Liebmann, Mark Evanier, Scott Bricher, Scott Maiko, Dave Croatto, Jeff Kruse, John Biederman, Butch D'Ambrosio, Jacob Lambert, Arie Kaplan, Drew Friedman, Ray Alma, Hermann Meija, Dana T. Graf, Greg Leitman, Steve Jarczak, Stan Sinberg, Mike Mikula, Darren Johnson, Scott Bricher, Timothey Shamey, Kenny Byerly, David Shayne, Jack Davis, Ryan Flanders, Tom Luth, Jacob Lambert, Matt Lassen, Emo Philips, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, Leonardo Rodriguez, Emily Flake, Jim Campbell and Arnie Kogen.

From Mad by Rick Tulka
'The startling similarities between ancient mythology & modern rock' (Mad #306, 1991).

Other publications
Apart from Mad, Tulka's work has also appeared in People Weekly, Reader's Digest, Money Magazine and Rolling Stone. In 1995 he and his wife moved to Paris, where they still live today. He has contributed to publications such as Le Monde, Spirou, Cadre Courrier, Le Soir, and L'Etudiant. In 1998 Tulka was hired by the Belgian newspaper Le Soir to work as a courtroom sketch artist during the trial against the perpetrators of the Augusta-Dassault corruption scandal. He illustrated the children's book 'Today I Am A Ma'am' (2001) by Valerie Harper and Catherine Whitney and, together with Noël Riley, the book 'Paris Cafe: The Sélect Crowd' (2007), about the Parisian café Le Sélect where he is a regular visitor. He made a series of caricatures of French politicians which are on permanent exhibition in the Parisian parliament. In January 2015, after the terrorist attacks on the office of Charlie-Hebdo in Paris, Tulka joined the peaceful demonstration that was held in the wake of the tragedy. He also made some sketches during the event.

Tulka is a productive sketch artist. He has kept personal sketch books since 1973 and still enjoys drawing from life, either in cafés, museums or during airplane trips. The man prefers to keep his drawings textless, only adding an additional speech balloon if necessary. Apart from sketch books he also owns a huge collection of celebrity caricatures, signed by the famous faces themselves. Among the big names who autographed his caricatures are Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Spike Lee, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Liza Minnelli, Lucille Ball, Stephen Sondheim and Johnny Carson. Even fellow artists like Al Hirschfeld, Paloma Picasso (daughter of Pablo Picasso), David Levine and Andy Warhol have put their signature on his artwork.

From Mad, by Rick Tulka
'A Mad guide to Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong' (Mad #381, 1999).

Series and books by Rick Tulka you can order today:


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