Spy vs. Spy

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Spy vs. Spy
Spy vs. Spy Logotipe.png
Author(s)
Current status/scheduleOngoing
Launch date Mad magazine #60 (Jan. 1961)
Publisher(s) DC Entertainment
Genre(s) Political satire, humor

Spy vs. Spy is a wordless comic strip published in Mad magazine. It features two agents involved in stereotypical and comical espionage activities. One is dressed in white, and the other in black, but they are otherwise identical, and are particularly known for their long, beaklike heads and their white pupils and black sclera. The pair are always at war with each other, using a variety of booby-traps to inflict harm on the other. The spies usually alternate between victory and defeat with each new strip. A parody of the political ideologies of the Cold War, the strip was created by Cuban expatriate cartoonist Antonio Prohías, and debuted in Mad #60, dated January 1961. [1] Spy vs. Spy is currently written and drawn by Peter Kuper.

Pantomime comics or a silent comic are comics which are delivered in mime. They make use of little to no dialogue, speech balloons or captions written underneath the images. Instead the stories or gags are told entirely through pictures.

Comic strip Short serialized comics

A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions. Traditionally, throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, these have been published in newspapers and magazines, with horizontal strips printed in black-and-white in daily newspapers, while Sunday newspapers offered longer sequences in special color comics sections. With the development of the internet, they began to appear online as webcomics. There were more than 200 different comic strips and daily cartoon panels in American newspapers alone each day for most of the 20th century, for a total of at least 7,300,000 episodes.

Mad is an American humor magazine founded in 1952 by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines, launched as a comic book before it became a magazine. It was widely imitated and influential, affecting satirical media, as well as the cultural landscape of the 20th century, with editor Al Feldstein increasing readership to more than two million during its 1974 circulation peak. From 1952 until 2018, Mad published 550 regular issues, as well as hundreds of reprint "Specials", original-material paperbacks, reprint compilation books and other print projects. The magazine's numbering reverted to 1 with its June 2018 issue, coinciding with the magazine's headquarters move to the West Coast.

Contents

The Spy vs. Spy characters have been featured in such media as video games and an animated television series, and in such merchandise as action figures and trading cards.

Action figure small toy that resembles a figure

An action figure is a poseable character doll made most commonly of plastic, and often based upon characters from a film, comic book, military, video game, or television program—fictional or historical. These figures are usually marketed toward boys and adult collectors. The term was coined by Hasbro in 1964 to market G.I. Joe to boys.

A trading card is a small card, usually made out of paperboard or thick paper, which usually contains an image of a certain person, place or thing and a short description of the picture, along with other text. There is a wide variation of different types of cards. Modern cards even go as far as to include swatches of game worn memorabilia, autographs, and even DNA hair samples of their subjects.

Publication history

Prohías was a prolific cartoonist in Cuba known for political satire. He fled to the United States on May 1, 1960, three days before Fidel Castro's government nationalized the last of the Cuban free press. [2] Prohías sought work in his profession and travelled to the offices of Mad magazine in New York City on July 12, 1960. After a successful showing of his work and a prototype cartoon for Spy vs. Spy, Prohías was hired. [3]

Cartoonist Visual artist who makes cartoons

A cartoonist is a visual artist who specializes in drawing cartoons. This work is often created for entertainment, political commentary, or advertising. Cartoonists may work in many formats, such as booklets, comic strips, comic books, editorial cartoons, graphic novels, manuals, gag cartoons, graphic design, illustrations, storyboards, posters, shirts, books, advertisements, greeting cards, magazines, newspapers, and video game packaging.

Political satire is satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics; it has also been used with subversive intent where political speech and dissent are forbidden by a regime, as a method of advancing political arguments where such arguments are expressly forbidden.

Fidel Castro Former First Secretary of the Communist Party and President of Cuba

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.

Prohías cryptically signed each strip on its first panel with a sequence of Morse code characters that spell "BY PROHIAS". In a 1983 interview with the Miami Herald, Prohías reflected on the success of Spy vs. Spy, stating, "The sweetest revenge has been to turn Fidel's accusation of me as a spy into a moneymaking venture." [3] Prohías, however, was censored by Mad magazine publisher William Gaines on at least one occasion: the strip that eventually appeared in Mad magazine #84 (Jan. 1964) was altered to remove scenes where the spies drink and smoke (Gaines had a strong anti-smoking stance). [3] Prohías completed a total of 241 Spy vs. Spy strips for Mad magazine, the last one appearing in #269 (March 1987). [3] After that he drew gag strips for the titles (such as one involving radioactive waste in #287) and wrote several stories for Clarke or Manak to draw, with his last such contribution in #337 (July 1995). [4]

Morse code Transmission of language with brief pulses

Morse code is a character encoding scheme used in telecommunication that encodes text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, an inventor of the telegraph.

William Gaines American publisher

William Maxwell Gaines, was an American publisher and co-editor of EC Comics. Following a shift in EC's direction in 1950, Gaines presided over what became an artistically influential and historically important line of mature-audience comics. He published the satirical magazine Mad for over 40 years.

The strips continued, with writer Duck Edwing and artist Bob Clarke creating the majority. Their strips are identifiable by Clarke's drawing style, but signed " 'C/e", or " 'C/p" in the Prohias-written cases.

Duck Edwing cartoonist

Don "Duck" Edwing was an American gag cartoonist whose work has appeared for years in Mad. His signature "Duck Edwing" is usually accompanied by a small picture of a duck, and duck calls are heard on his answering machine. Mad editor John Ficarra said, "He's exactly how people picture a Mad magazine writer." In 2007, Edwing told an interviewer, "I always believed that when you choose your field, you should specialize. You never deviate. I chose 'sick puppy'."

Bob Clarke (illustrator) American illustrator and cartoonist

Robert J. "Bob" Clarke was an American illustrator whose work appeared in advertisements and MAD Magazine. The label of the Cutty Sark bottle is his creation. Clarke was born in Mamaroneck, New York. He resided in Seaford, Delaware.

Some were largely uncredited, simply being signed "M&S" (MAD 335) or "M&e" (MAD 352).

Peter Kuper took over as writer and artist for the strip with Mad magazine #356 (April 1997). It was later drawn in full color when the magazine changed from a black and white to full color format.

Peter Kuper cartoonist

Peter Kuper is an American alternative comics artist and illustrator, best known for his autobiographical, political, and social observations.

Characters

Cosplay, Comikaze Expo 2011 Comikaze Expo 2011 - Spy vs Spy (6325381362).jpg
Cosplay, Comikaze Expo 2011

Black Spy and White Spy (or "Man in Black" and "Man in White") — Wearing wide-brimmed hats and dressed in overcoats, both Spies have long pointed faces. They are identical except for one being entirely in white and one entirely in black. The Spies were modeled after El Hombre Siniestro ("The Sinister Man"), a character Prohías created in the Cuban magazine Bohemia in 1956. Like the Spies, he wore a wide-brimmed hat and overcoat and had a long pointed nose. Prohías described the character as someone who "thought nothing of chopping the tails off of dogs, or even the legs off of little girls" and stated he was "born out of the national psychosis of the Cuban people." [3] 'El Hombre Siniestro bears strong resemblance to the Spies—although, instead of fighting against a set rival, he simply does horrible things to anyone he can find.

The cover copy of The All New Mad Secret File on Spy vs. Spy provides early insight to the characters and Prohías' views on the Castro regime and the CIA:

You are about to meet Black Spy and White Spy – the two MADdest spies in the whole world. Their antics are almost as funny as the CIA's. . . . When it comes to intrigue, these guys make it way outtrigue. They are the only two spies we know who haven't the sense to come in out of the cold. But they have a ball – mainly trying to outwit each other. [3]

Grey Spy (or "Woman in Grey") — She debuted in Mad magazine #73 (Sept. 1962) (the strip was temporarily renamed Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy). Grey Spy's appearances were sporadic, but she always triumphed by using the infatuations of Black Spy and White Spy to her advantage. Prohías explained, "the lady Spy represented neutrality. She would decide for White Spy or Black Spy, and she also added some balance and variety to the basic 'Spy vs. Spy' formula." [3] Grey Spy's last appearance under Prohías was Mad Magazine #99 (Dec. 1965); she did not appear again until Bob Clarke and Duck Edwing took over the strip.

Leaders — They are the barrel-chested, medal-decorated bosses of Black Spy and White Spy, who give them tasks and punish them for their failures. The Leaders were phased out when Peter Kuper took over writing and illustrating the strip.

Spin-offs

Other media

White Spy as seen in a 2004 Mountain Dew television commercial. Mountain Dew Spies.jpg
White Spy as seen in a 2004 Mountain Dew television commercial.

Bibliography

Spin-offs

See also

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References

  1. Carabas, Teodora (2007). "'Tales Calculated to Drive You MAD': The Debunking of Spies, Superheroes, and Cold War Rhetoric in Mad Magazine's 'SPY vs SPY'". The Journal of Popular Culture. 40 (1): 4–24. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5931.2007.00351.x.
  2. "Spy vs. Spy Headquarters".Cite web requires |website= (help)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Spy vs. Spy: The Complete Casebook", Prohías, A. (Watson-Guptill, 2001).
  4. http://www.madcoversite.com/ugoi-antonio_prohias.html Mad Magazine Contributors-Antonio Prohias
  5. Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 364. ISBN   9780472117567.
  6. "Spy vs Spy". World of Spectrum.
  7. "In the Studio". Next Generation . No. 30. Imagine Media. June 1997. p. 19.
  8. "Spy vs. Spy," BoardGameGeek.com. Accessed July 1, 2015.
  9. "Spy vs Spy Mountain Dew Commercials," YBCW.com. Accessed July 1, 2015.

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