The National Cartoonists Society has created a Medal of Honor award, and the prize’s inaugural recipient will be legendary MAD magazine artist Mort Drucker, the NCS is announcing this evening.
“The NCS Medal of Honor is a new award instituted by the NCS board of directors in the fall of 2014, and Drucker was chosen as the very first recipient of the Medal by unanimous vote,” NCS President Tom Richmond says in a statement. “The Medal of Honor is a lifetime achievement award bestowed upon a cartoonist ‘in recognition of a long and distinguished career of continued excellence in cartooning that has set the highest of standards and inspiration.’ ”
Drucker, 85, began as a comic-book assistant shortly after World War II, and became an iconic staple of MAD, drawing decades of film and TV parodies when the magazine was at its pop-culture zenith in Boomer-generation popularity, reaching millions of readers.
“Mort was typically very humble about being informed of his receiving the award,” Richmond tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “He mentioned how great an honor it is whenever another cartoonist tells him they were inspired by his work.
“Being honored by the society is something special,” continues Richmond, himself a MAD caricaturist, “and all he could say was, ‘Thank you.’ ”
In 1987, Drucker won the NCS’s Reuben Award, which is meant to recognize the “outstanding cartoonist of the year.” The group’s only lifetime achievement honor is the Milton Caniff Award, but in an odd quirk of the group’s rules, a Reuben recipient cannot subsequently be awarded the Caniff honor. The lifetime Medal of Honor was created as a prize prescriptive.
The 69th annual NCS Reuben Awards ceremony will be Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C.