, June 12
– May 17
) was an American cartoonist
, most noted for his work in Mad
Berg showed early artistic talents, attending Pratt Institute when he was 12 years old, and later studying at Cooper Union. He served a period of time in the Army Air Corps. In 1940, he joined Will Eisner's studio, where he wrote and drew for the Quality Comics line. Berg's work also appeared in Dell Comics and Fawcett Publications, typically on humorous back-up features. Beginning in the mid-1940s, he worked for several years with Stan Lee on comic books at Timely Comics (now known as Marvel Comics), ranging from Combat Kelly and The Ringo Kid to Tessie the Typist. He also freelanced for a half-dozen other comic companies.
Berg began at Mad
in 1956. In 1961 he started the magazine's "Lighter Side" feature, his most famous creation. It usually included caricatures of Berg's own family, headed by his cranky, hypochondriac alter-ego, Roger Kaputnik. His visual style made him one of the more realistic Mad
artists, although his characters managed to sport garish early-1970s wardrobes well into the 1990s. Though "The Lighter Side" was criticized by some for its lightweight gags and was brutally satirized by the National Lampoon
parody, it had a long run as the magazine's most popular feature. Mad
editor Nick Meglin
often did layouts of "Lighter Side" panels. Sixteen original collections by Berg were published as paperbacks between 1964 and 1987.
Berg's other work included the comic strips Citizen Senior (1989-93), Roger Kaputnik (1992) and Astronuts (1994). He also produced regular religious-themed work for "Moshiach Times" and the B'nai Brith newsletter and held an honorary doctorate in theology. His interaction with Mad's atheist publisher Bill Gaines was suitably irreverent: Berg would always tell Gaines "God bless you," and Gaines would reply, "Go to Hell."
His characters occasionally made their way into other artists' works, such as Kaputnik finding himself a patient in a Mort Drucker spoof of Saint Elsewhere, along with the words "with apologies to Dave Berg".
Berg contributed to Mad until his death, a total of 46 years. His last set of "Lighter Side" strips, which had been written but not penciled, were illustrated after Berg's death by 18 of Mad's other artists as a final tribute.
Recently, Dave Berg's Lighter Side strips have begun to be re-written with updated jokes for Mad by long time Mad writer, Dick DeBartolo, among others.
He died in his home in Marina del Rey, California, shortly after midnight on May 17, 2002 after a long battle with cancer, with his wife of 52 years, Vivian, and their two children by his side.
Original Berg paperbacks
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At The U.S.A. (1964)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At People (1966)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At Things (1967)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At Modern Thinking (1969)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At Our Sick World (1971)
- MAD's Dave Berg: My Friend God (1972)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At Living (1973)
- MAD's Dave Berg: Roger Kaputnik And God (1974)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks Around (1975)
- Dave Berg: MAD Trash (1977)
- MAD's Dave Berg Takes A Loving Look (1977)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks, Listens And Laughs (1979)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At You (1982)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At The Neighborhood (1984)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At Our Planet (1986)
- MAD's Dave Berg Looks At Today (1987)