Spy vs Spy Danger Intrigue Stupidity cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
What reader of MAD Magazine doesn’t know Spy vs. Spy, the pantomime or wordless black and white comic strip that has been published in MAD since 1961? The comic strip stars two spies, Black and White, who are constantly fighting and conspiring against each other. Each spy is always conceiving increasingly sophisticated ways of doing away with the other. These two spies are drawn to look virtually identical: wearing dark shades, trilby hats, and overcoats, and both have long pointed noses. The main difference between the two is that one is dressed in white and the other in black.
Spy vs. Spy was the creation of Antonio Prohías (1921-1998), a Cuban born, internationally recognized and awarded political cartoonist. Prohías left Cuba for New York after falling afoul of the new Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, who reportedly issued death threats to Prohias and his family. In July of 1960, Prohias arrived at Mad Magazine offices, and his drawings of two pointy-nosed characters earned the cartoonist a position with the famed humor magazine, although Prohias spoke no English.
Watson-Guptill Publications is releasing a set of three books that will reprint Spy vs. Spy strips which haven’t been published in more than 40 years. The first of those three books is Spy vs Spy! Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity!, which collects material previously published in The All-New MAD Secret File on Spy vs Spy (Signet Books, 1965).
First, the perspective Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity! reader should know that one can never get too much Spy vs. Spy – even 192 pages of the strip in one book. Creator Antonio Prohias deserves to be called a “master cartoonist.” Not only are his draftsmanship and composition impeccable; Prohias also has a commanding grasp of pantomime or wordless comics which allows him to convey both the humor and the plot/story of a sketch or episode just with drawings and no word balloons. Anyone who has ever read Spy vs. Spy in Mad Magazine and wanted more can now experience the brilliant early era of an outstanding Mad feature.