You might be familiar with Rick Parker from his work on the Pekar Project, the Beavis and Butthead comics he did for MTV, or his comic Deadboy, but if you don't have kids around the house, you might not know his most recent work, the parodies Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid, Harry Potty and the Deathly Boring, and Breaking Down, all done for NBM's children's comics imprint Papercutz.
If those all sound like updated Mad Magazine parodies, well, all I can say is check out the art. Like seminal Mad artist Will Elder, Parker likes to fill the backgrounds of his panels with lots of small, often hilarious details. (Finding the word "Potrzebie" in one of them convinced me that the similarity was intentional.) Like Mad, the humor in his books is juvenile and sophisticated at the same time.
I have seen Rick at cons, usually sitting at the Papercutz table sketching away, and at MoCCA I decided to say hi. My suspicions were immediately confirmed. "I saw Mad Magazine in 1957 or 1958, and it rocked my world," he said, reeling off the names of Mad artists—Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Wally Wood. "I modeled myself after Will Elder," he said. "I wanted to do that in the present day. I was the artist for Beavis and Butthead, and I tried to put some funny stuff in there."
He pointed out a panel in Harry Potty that featured a room full of crystal balls bearing assorted faces. One had the face of Mad publisher William Gaines, and another featured the face of his editor at Papercutz, Jim Salicrup. "I should give out little magnifying glasses with Harry Potty," he said.
"One of the great things about comics is that people don't move on until they are ready," he said. "I want to be able to squeeze as much juice out of the lemon as possible. If people are going to spend time on something I have done, I want them to enjoy it."
"I just want to make people laugh."