Today (Oct 2nd) Watson -Guptill will release a new collection of Spy vs Spy that will include 250 of the strips I've done over the last decade.
In an interview for the book, they asked me how I got the gig. Here's what I told them:
When editors John Ficarra and Nick Meglin called asked me to try for Spy Vs. Spy in 1996, It seemed like a piece of cake. They gave me a scenario written by Michael Galliger and all I had to do was come up with a completely original stylistic approach to a pair of world renown characters. I had grown up reading them and knew anything I did with Spy vs Spy would be scrutinized by millions of readers then rejected as a pale reflection of what the creator, Antonio Prohias, had pulled off since 1961.
How hard could that be?
But then it appeared that the 'piece of cake' might get poisoned.
On my way to deliver my sample Spy art I noticed two men with clearly fake beards shadowing me on my way to the subway. Fortunately I gave them the slip by taking a taxi, but this turned out to be a grave mistake--it was triple the cost of the subway! I arrived safely at Mad's offices but noticed a strange series of bumps it the carpet leading up to the receptionist. The bearded receptionist also seemed oddly familiar (I later realized she looked a lot like my aunt Zelda). When the first mine exploded under the carpet I found myself thrown into the editorial offices and I knew there would be no turning back. The editors, Nick and John, responded with great enthusiasm to my samples. John phoned security and Nick actually woke up long enough to mispronounce my name and offer me a piece of poisoned cake. As I exited by the window I knew I had the job when John and Nick removed their beards. Their hunt was over.
Here's a rejected Spy idea...for some reason Sperm vs Sperm didn't fly...
Stencil before spraying--I use regular enamel spray paint, not an air brush.
Here's a little more interview:
What's your best Spy idea that was rejected?
The very first idea I submitted.
Black Spy is reading in the newspaper that the Cold War is over! He throws an enormous party and gets smashed. When he recovers, he realizes without the White Spy there is no more need to develop new weapons and justify taking tax payers money. He's forced to close his military industrial complex. Now he's out of a job and winds up on the unemployment line, sad, broke and unshaven. But he gets an idea! He finds a new enemy, creating a threat to his country by developing terrorist White Spy robots. Black Spy scares his countrymen into funding a new and endless war on white Spy terrorists!
The editors rejected it as too implausible.
You've drawn for Time, Newsweek the New York Times and MAD. Be honest, which one is the funniest?
The attempt by Time, Newsweek and the New York Times to pass off a lot of their erroneous reporting as hard news can be downright hilarious,
but Mad wins that contest by a nose,
a missing tooth,
two tilted ears,
and some freckles.