Dave Berg (cartoonist)

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Dave Berg
Davebergself.jpg
Self-portrait
Born (1920-06-12)June 12, 1920[1]
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died May 17, 2002(2002-05-17) (aged 81)
Marina Del Rey, California, United States
Nationality American
Field Cartoonist

Dave Berg (Brooklyn, June 12, 1920 – May 17, 2002) was an American cartoonist, most noted for his five decades of work in Mad.

Berg showed early artistic talents, attending Pratt Institute when he was 12 years old, and later studying at Cooper Union. He served a period of time in the Army Air Corps. In 1940, he joined Will Eisner's studio, where he wrote and drew for the Quality Comics line. Berg's work also appeared in Dell Comics and Fawcett Publications, typically on humorous back-up features. Beginning in the mid-1940s, he worked for several years with Stan Lee on comic books at Timely Comics (now known as Marvel Comics), ranging from Combat Kelly and The Ringo Kid to Tessie the Typist. He also freelanced for a half-dozen other companies, including EC Comics.[2][3]

Mad[edit]

Berg began at Mad in 1956. For five years, he provided satirical looks at areas such as Little League baseball, boating and babysitting. In 1961, he started the magazine's "Lighter Side" feature, his most famous creation. Berg would take an omnibus topic (such as "Noise," "Spectators" or "Dog Owners") and deliver approximately 15 short multi-panel cartoons on the subject. In later years, he dropped the one-topic approach. Berg often included caricatures of his own family, headed by his cranky, hypochondriac alter-ego, Roger Kaputnik, as well as the Mad editorial staff.

His artistic style made Berg one of the more realistic Mad artists, although his characters managed to sport garish early-1970s wardrobes well into the 1990s. The art chores for a 1993 article, "The First Day of School 30 Years Ago and Today" were split between Berg and Rick Tulka, since Berg's old-fashioned appeal made him an ideal choice to depict the gentle nostalgia of 1963. The artist's lightweight gags and sometimes moralistic tone were roughly satirized by the National Lampoon's 1971 Mad parody, which included a hard-hatted conservative and a longhaired hippie finding their only common ground by choking and beating Berg. However, "The Lighter Side" had a long run as the magazine's most popular feature. Mad editor Nick Meglin often did layouts of "Lighter Side" panels. Sixteen original collections by Berg were published as paperbacks between 1964 and 1987.[2]

Berg held an honorary doctorate in theology. He produced regular religious-themed work for Moshiach Times and the B'nai Brith newsletter. His interaction with Mad's atheist publisher Bill Gaines was suitably irreverent: Berg would tell Gaines, "God bless you," and Gaines would reply, "Go to Hell."

Fellow Mad contributor Al Jaffee described Berg's unique personality in 2009: "Dave had a messianic complex of some sort. He was battling... he had good and evil inside of him, clashing all the time. It was sad, in a sense, because he wanted to be taken very seriously, and you know, the staffers at Mad just didn't take anything seriously. Most of all, ourselves... It came out in a lot of the things he did. He had a very moralistic personality... He wrote a book called My Friend God. And of course, if you write a book like that, you just know that the Mad staff is going to make fun of you. We would ask him questions like, "Dave, when did you and God become such good friends? Did you go to college together, or what?"[4]

His characters occasionally made their way into other artists' works, such as Kaputnik finding himself a patient in a Mort Drucker spoof of St. Elsewhere, tagged "with apologies to Dave Berg".[5]

Berg contributed to Mad until his death, a total of 46 years. His last set of "Lighter Side" strips, which had been written but not penciled, were illustrated after Berg's death by 18 of Mad's other artists as a final tribute; this affectionate send-off included the magazine's final new contribution from Jack Davis. In recent years, Berg's Lighter Side strips have been rewritten for Mad with inappropriately "un-Berg-like" humor by long time Mad writer Dick DeBartolo and others; this irregular feature is called "The Darker Side of the Lighter Side."

Berg's other work included the comic strips Citizen Senior (1989–93), Roger Kaputnik (1992) and Astronuts (1994).

Death[edit]

After a long battle with cancer, he died in his home in Marina del Rey, California, shortly after midnight on May 17, 2002. Berg was survived by his wife of 52 years, Vivian, and their two children.[2]

Berg paperbacks[edit]

Title Year ISBN
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at the U.S.A. 1964 ISBN 978-0-446-35422-6
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at People 1966 ISBN 978-0-446-86132-8
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Things 1967 ISBN 978-0-446-94403-8
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Modern Thinking 1969 ISBN 978-0-446-30434-4
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Our Sick World 1971 ISBN 978-0-446-94404-5
Mad's Dave Berg: My Friend God 1972 ISBN 978-0-451-06976-4
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Living 1973 ISBN 978-0-446-75697-6
Mad's Dave Berg: Roger Kaputnik and God 1974 ISBN 978-0-451-06106-5
Mad's Dave Berg Looks Around 1975 ISBN 978-0-446-30432-0
Dave Berg: Mad Trash 1977 ISBN 978-0-446-87938-5
Mad's Dave Berg Takes a Loving Look 1977 ISBN 978-0-446-88860-8
Mad's Dave Berg Looks, Listens and Laughs 1979 ISBN 978-0-446-88667-3
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at You 1982 ISBN 978-0-446-34792-1
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at the Neighborhood 1984 ISBN 978-0-446-30350-7
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Our Planet 1986 ISBN 978-0-446-32310-9
Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Today 1987 ISBN 978-0-446-34423-4

References[edit]

  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JTBK-FPG : accessed February 21, 2013), David Berg, May 17, 2002; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  2. ^ a b c Whitcomb, Dan. "Mad Magazine Cartoonist Dave Berg, 81, Dies in L.A.", Reuters. May 24, 2002.
  3. ^ Evanier, Mark. News from ME, May 17, 2002
  4. ^ Sacks, Mike, And Here's the Kicker, Writer's Digest Books, 2009, pgs. 223
  5. ^ Mad No. 281, September 1988.

External links[edit]