In Memoriam: MAD Magazine artist Paul Coker Jr.

Cartoon by MAD Magazine artist Paul Coker Jr. - dog digging up garden

We’re sorry to report the passing of American illustrator Paul Coker Jr., who worked in many media, including for MAD magazine. He is also known for his character design for several Rankin-Bass TV specials, greetings cards and advertising work.

Deadline reports Coker died on 23rd July 2022, following a brief illness at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, aged 93.

Paul Coker Jr.'s self portrait, dedicated to art collector Rob Stolzer | Via ComicArtFans
Paul Coker Jr.’s self portrait, dedicated to art collector Rob Stolzer | Via ComicArtFans

Often overlooked, Paul Coker Jr. was one of the most talented and stylistically ubiquitous artists of modern times, his career spanning over half a century. “His sketches are deceptively simple on first glance,” noted Stephen Worth, Director of Animation Resources, “but they are solidly drawn and incorporate many fundamental principles in a sophisticated manner.”

Coker’s decades-long association with Mad magazine began in 1961, and he would go on to illustrate hundreds of articles well into the 21st Century. Particularly known for the popular panels called “Horrifying Cliches”, he also illustrated some of the magazine’s film and TV parodies, including articles satirizing Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Twister, Frasier, Sabrina: Teenage Witch and Caroline In The City.

Mad Super Special #83, Star Blecch VI: The Uninspired Continuation original art by Paul Coker

Beginning in 1967, Coker was a production designer on more than a dozen Rankin/Bass specials and shorts, including Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town.

Coker is survived by his wife of 33 years, Rosemary Smithson, stepdaughters Lee Smithson Burd and Carol Smithson.

MAD Magazine artist Paul Coker Jr.

• Paul Coker Jr., 5th March 1929 – 23rd July 23, 2022

Deadline Tribute to Paul Coker Jr. 29th July 2022

Paul Coker’s Monsters – an appreciation by John Kricfalusi

Paul Coker Jr. -An Appreciation by David Apatoff

Mad Magazine Contributors – Paul Coker (Contributions in Order of Appearance)

Lambiek – Paul Coker Jr.

Paul Coker Jr.’s contributions to HELP Magazine (1961)

Paul Coker Jr. art on ComicArtFans

Categories: Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries, US Comics

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