|BILL FINGER AWARD WINNER |
(Writer - MAD)
|“If you don't read an obit of me I'll most likely be available for your shindig.”|
Frank Jacobs is an American satire writer, known primarily for his work in MAD, to which he has contributed since 1957. Jacobs has written articles of all kinds, but is best known as a versifier who contributes parodies of famous song lyrics and poems. In 2009, Jacobs told a Burbank newspaper, “I’m the least-known writer of hysterical light verse in the United States.”
Jacobs appeared in the sixth chapter of PBS’ comedy documentary, Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America singing “Blue Cross,” his own 1961 parody of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. That lyric was one of 25 which comprised Irving Berlin et al. v. E.C. Publications, Inc., a precedent-setting case that was appealed to the Supreme Court and helped to define the boundaries of parody in American law.
Jacobs’ first submission to the magazine, “Why I Left the Army and Became a Civilian,” resulted in an immediate sale and a request for more material. It was one of five Jacobs pieces to appear in issue #33 (June 1957), marking a prodigious debut for the MAD contributor. His byline has since appeared in more than 300 issues of the magazine, second only to Dick DeBartolo among MAD writers who do not also illustrate their own work. At his peak, Jacobs was writing a fifth of the magazine’s content. “My top year, I sold 60 pages... so you get an idea of the roll I was on,” Jacobs told an interviewer.
Jacobs established numerous recurring features in MAD, including fabricated obituaries for fictional characters from various genres such as television or comic strips, and the “Do-It-Yourself Newspaper Stories” which offer a series of fill-in-the-blank options.
Jacobs also wrote 13 paperback books under the MAD imprint, including For Better or Verse, a collection of poetry parodies, as well as the best-selling biography The Mad World of William M. Gaines.
One of Jacobs’ non-MAD-related projects was 1965’s Alvin Steadfast On Vernacular Island, a gentle spoof of post-Victorian boys’ books. The titular hero is a ten year-old boy, who joins an adult explorer on Vernacular Island, a place populated by bizarre and wonderful creatures such as the Standing Ovation, the Ill Omen, the Glowing Report and the Ugly Rumor. The two humans go in search of the Doubt, and as their adventure takes them into the jungle, even more fabulous creatures are encountered. The original Dial Press edition was illustrated by Edward Gorey, in a non-characteristic whimsical style unlike his usual gleefully dark drawings. Jacobs’ writing is only lightly cynical, with more of an emphasis on wordplay, puns, and gentle humor.
At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Jacobs was a co-recipient of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing.