Mad About Cartoons

Bill Wray is trying to make the transition fine art but is known as a cartoonist, a background painter/ Art director and sometimes animation director. This will be the place he post his ocasional animation and cartooning work and also be a place to bitch or wax sentimentally about cartoons in general. It’s been a love and hate relationship for many years and the long journey may not be quite over.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Monroe The first episode

Back in the late Nineties I was hired to do a new real time strip in Mad magazine with TV writer Tony Barbieri called Monroe. I'm posting the first pencils and the final art. So many changes were made, I re- drew it entirely. I really didn't want to do Mom as clean cut as the editors wanted, so over the years I slowly evolved her back to this version. They never noticed. Monroe got fixed up for the better and evolved more later. I loved that he got real time older until they stopped the aging in his teens. Tony and I were looking forward to him as a young man. The strip was the love of my cartoon life for a long time, we were breaking ground every episode. Then Jenette Kahn The publisher who green light the strip and wanted Mad to have a harder edge left DC and the Paul Levitz conservative years toned the strip down and turned it into a job.
Have fun comparing the pages


Blogger Vanoni! said...

What the hell is Ice Cheese?

Thanks for posting - the process and finals are excellent. Monroe was a great reason to pick up MAD during those times and I was sad to see it leave your hands.

The last panel with original Mom sitting on the couch is a thing of beauty.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Maurizio Ercole said...

Fantastic panels!!! Happy new year Bill!

11:03 AM  
Blogger MICHAEL E. VERNON said...

It's criminal that something that you gave birth to, (and women say men can't have babies.)has been raised by anal, retentivites!
It's like Children services showed up and said, "You're not fit to raise this comic strip. We'll, do what's right for the child."

11:10 AM  
Blogger lucas accardo said...

AWESOME! Never seen this before! Thank you!

11:18 AM  
Blogger Struwwelpeter said...

I'm not usually this much of an asskiss, but I LOVED these.
It was the first non R&S project of yours that I came across. I think when I noticed them for the first time I was at an age where MAD magazine on the whole was getting a bit old (think I dropped off around '97-ish) but the Monroe comics stood out as being a lot darker and more risque. From what you're saying I must've seen it when it was at its best, it's a shame that it became a chore by the end. I also loved that oftentimes there'd be little Stimpys hidden in the backgrounds or between the panels :D
Real treat to see the original art. Any chance of releasing them as an anthology one day you reckon?

5:08 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

thanks V --Ice cheese is ice cream when you think about it...

6:28 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

thanks M.E

6:29 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

M>E>V>Yeah Child services in this case was my second art director.

6:30 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

thanks Lucas

6:31 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

Stru-- You never know, but I was very difficult with editorial along with the art director playing us against each other. I can see them not doing a collection due hurt feelings. They don't get I was a dick because of how much I loved working with them originally.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Thorsten Hasenkamm said...


4:35 PM  
Blogger Shawn Dickinson said...

I actually own this issue. Your Monroe cartoons were the only reason I kept buying MAD after all my favorite classic Mad artists weren't being featured in the magazine any more. I never even bother picking it up now.

Comparing these to the original pencils is very cool. Thanks for sharing!

5:13 PM  
Blogger Shawn Dickinson said...

Also, I must comment on the brilliance of your inking.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Percy Pernell said...

Monroe was the only thing making me buy MAD...I cut the strips out and tossed the rest.

Now if we could get some of your Cracked paintings collected.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Todd Casey said...

I would love to see these collected in a hardcover.

6:30 AM  
Blogger lucas accardo said...

Bill watching (and watching and watching) at this great art i was wondering if there is anything you could post about what i hear it was a canceled comic book starring DC Lobo's dog?
Did that exist or was just a rumor?
I do remember stumbling across something on the web while searching for any of your work i could have missed!

2:47 PM  
Blogger Mad Max Winston said...

Very cool to see these! I remember reading these comics in MAD and thinking they were pretty messed up... and loving it, ha.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Mr. Artmonkeys said...

Hey, Bill --

I'd seen and liked your work before, but I was over the moon when Monroe strips started showing up at Comicraft to get lettered. I got a few of them to do (I begged and cajoled to do as many as I could, actually). I knew deep down I was looking at genius work, at once appealing and repulsive (appealing art, repulsive characters, but true to life), so I saved as much of the art as I could for me to study down the line. It was so wild, I couldn't grok it all at the time. Thanks for making these strips!

2:35 AM  
Blogger 'sharpyoungbull' said...

That was back when I first had a subscription to MAD, when they had a yellow border and everything.

I definitely saw Monroe as one of the standouts from that era, I was pretty happy that they weren't cashing in on past glories at that point. They even had Peter Kuper on 'Spy Vs. Spy'.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Clarke (Csnyde) said...

I REALLY miss your Monroe comics. It was basically the only thing left in MAD that continued to be funny and visually interesting amidst steaming piles of garbage that assaulted every one of the senses.

Getting a sneak peek at your process is an extra-special treat!

Any plans for a collection or more comics from you in the future Bill?

11:14 AM  
Blogger Jeff Overturf said...

I've had a (disturbing even to myself) crush on Monroe's mom for years. I like her both ways =/

9:37 PM  
Blogger Bob Lizarraga said...

Fantastic work- thanks so much for posting. I always wondered why you stopped working on Monroe. Hey, I dig your landscapes, too- SWAK!

12:15 AM  
Blogger Griot said...

I have to concur with Vanoni! It's a great experience on my mac screen. Thank you again!

ed bell
(ancient spumco alumnus)

12:09 PM  
Blogger whazzup3929 said...

yes..I too have a serious crush on monroe's mom...wish I could find pics of hard to search for her though

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