Friday, February 24, 2023

Today in Comics History, February 24: Happy birthday, Abe Vigoda!

This is an expanded and updated version of a post originally published February 24, 2022.

Born on this day in 1921, so it's the 102nd birthday of Abe Vigoda, who gets to be in this blog feature not only because I like him, but also because he's appeared in comic books! More specifically, here's his Barney Miller character Fish, in an issue of Iron Fist:

from Iron Fist (1975 series) #8 (Marvel, October 1976), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Dan Adkins, colors by Bonnie Wilford, letters by Joe Rosen

So, who d'you think that artist "Byrne" is that Fish is talking about? MAKE A GUESS.

Abe was also in the cinema classic The Godfather, but in the MAD magazine parody of that Italian crime family saga, he didn't get much of a role, with barely any lines (and not even in the Official MAD font!). Still, he was drawn by Mort Drucker, which means he's finally arrived in the pantheon of Hollywood stars!

from "The Oddfather" in MAD #155 (December 1972), script by Larry Siegel, pencils and inks by Mort Drucker

Abe did, however, have a speaking singing role in the next Godfather spoof, also drawn by Mort Drucker!:

from "New Musicals Based on Big Movies" in MAD #182 (April 1976), script by Frank Jacobs, pencils and inks by Mort Drucker

As far as I can tell, MAD itself doesn't ever seem to have done a Barney Miller satire,

Updated on February 24, 2023: New material printed below in green.

Whoa ho! Wait just one coppin' minute! Almost immediately after I'd posted the original version of this birthday salute to Abe Vigoda, boisterous Boston Bully-booster Ward Hill Terry pointed out that MAD did indeed spoof Barney Miller. Thanks so much, WHT (please collect your patented No-Bull Prize after the show), and here it is:

from "Blarney Miller" in MAD #195 (December 1977), script by Stan Hart, pencils and inks by Angelo Torres

So there you go: thanks to Ward Hill Terry we now know that Abe Vigoda appeared in a Barney Miller spoof in MAD...and he did so as well in the third-most popular parody magazine on the stands, too!

cover of Cracked #139 (Major, January 1977), pencils and insk by John Severin

And let us never forget how Abe Vigoda got his start in the comics industry: smuggling his delicious, delightful corn flakes.

from "The Flathead Gang" in Crime Must Pay the Penalty #5 (Ace, December 1948), pencils and inks by Rudy Palais

(Actually, that's likely a reference to Abe's brother, comics artist Bill Vigoda!)

Happy birthday, Abe!

from MAD #182


Ward Hill Terry said...

MAD did do a Barney Miller spoof! No. 195 December '77!

Bully said...

Oh boy, I completely missed it! Thank you so much, WHT! I shall add it to next year's update!

Eric said...

If "Cracked" is the third most popular comedy magazine, what's the second?

joecab said...

And of course Abe's brother Bill was a longtime artist with a 30 year stint at Archie Comics

Bully said...

@Eric: National Geographic.

@joecab: I did not know that! Never put the two together in my head despite the unusual name. Thanks for teachin' me that!

joecab said...

My pleasure! But AFAIK Bill never worked for Ace, so I wonder if Palais was just friends with him and snuck his name in the comic?