It was Harvey Kurtzman, Editor of Help Magazine at the time, who suggested that Don Edwing take his art and offbeat humor to MAD Magazine, believing here was another Don Martin in the making. Harvey’s appraisal of Edwing’s work couldn’t have been more on target. The problem was that Martin was among MAD’s most popular and identifiable artists and featuring another similar drawing approach was nothing the magazine would entertain.
But Edwing’s writing was of a much broader scope and could easily be adapted as script for other non-writing cartoonists on MAD’s freelance team and he immediately agreed to contribute ideas with that understanding. It wasn’t long before he became a respected member of MAD’s “Usual Gang of Idiots.”
Edwing replaced “Don” with “Duck” as his credit line when he experienced little recognition from office staff members of various publications when searching for other freelance commissions. As he related, “From then on, the same people always remembered me when I announced, “Duck Edwing here to see Mr. So-and-so.” He would sometimes include a drawing of the famed statue from the film, “The Maltese Falcon” and sign it “The Maltese Duck.”
Don was as zany as the work he created and became one of the most popular members on the MAD staff. A hilarious joke teller as well as a nutty magician of sorts, Don also had a remarkable memory and continually astonished all with his movie, radio, and TV expertise in our ever-present movie trivia challenges. He was also an expert on everything associated with the subject of Sherlock Holmes and was a longstanding member of the Baker Street Irregulars, the international club of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed sleuth’s followers.
While his talent was much appreciated, he became an especially valued team player when medical conditions made writing new material difficult for Don Martin. Edwing gladly accepted the role as ghost writer for Martin, his friend and in many ways his idol, and never sought a credit line for the many features he created in Martin’s behalf. In a way, Harvey Kurtzman’s original suggestion to Edwing came full circle.
As a person, Don Edwing was loved by everyone associated with MAD Magazine. He will be remembered always.
~ Nick Meglin for MAD Magazine
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