Legendary Mad Magazine cartoonist Antonio Prohias inspired and had many other artists and musicians as friends. His gift of sharing his talent was priceless. We will be sharing stories about the lucky folks who were recipients of Antonio's time, advice, and friendship.
Art Casado: Pic of Antonio Prohias
Message to Antonio's daughter Suzi Prohais from a family friend, fellow artist, and drummer Art Casado
I was in New York around 1975-76, at a time I wanted to get away from music for a bit and get back into the artwork. During that time I saw your dad frequently. He lived way up in Manhattan somewhere, can't remember the street, but it was two long subway rides from Queensboro Plaza (where I lived) and an even longer walk from the station to his apt building. The block where he lived (I remember) was easy 3 times the length of the other blocks on his way to his place. A freaking mile long!!!
Your dad was so uniquely amazing in so many ways, it would take me a lifetime to write all the anecdotes about Antonio. One clear clue to his endless imagination was how he carried his unique style of drawing beyond the Spy characters.
The buildings he drew in the background were him, with those acute angles with a few bricks showing here and there, or the corner cluster of windows in far away scenes. His round moons the off-center hole and the intricate line-drawing clouds. The guns, the helicopters and everything else he drew had Antonio written all over it. Even a drawing of a pencil had his style.
I can tell you that the Spy vs Spy strips were superficially simple, but your dad was extremely serious about the authenticity of details.
He showed me a bunch of accordion files filled with magazine pages he used for reference --- he had photos of planes, boats, guns of every type, animals, you name it. He asked me, "what kind of tail does a hippo have?" I really could not say... well, he had a photo. --- He would say, "Imagine publishing a drawing of a giraffe with the wrong feet or wrong tail!!" He was right.
Of course, he would draw the animal his way, but anatomically correct. When a Spy was shooting a rifle, your dad knew the difference between the sight of a Winchester and that of an M-14. --- He was a trip and he once gave me an accordion to take home.
Of course, Antonio knew I played drums (he used to tell me that music was keeping me from being a full artist) ... (a brain divided) Ha!
Given that drums involved hitting stuff, he wanted to incorporate that into a Spy strip. (He did publish a frame of a Spy tied to a bass drum and taking a beating from the other Spy with the bass drum pedal.) But before that, your dad wanted to know how the drum pedal worked, and I sort of drew a sketch to explain the mechanism, but Antonio being a perfectionist, I ended up going to the music stores on 48th street, picking up drum catalogs and other drum stuff and bringing it to him. He was like a kid at Christmas, could not believe I came through for him... 😁
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