Cartoonist Mal Hancock

Cartoonist Mal Hancock had work in many magazines at the time I began showing my gag panel cartoons to editors back in the 70’s. At first, I did not realize who he was or what his story was, but as time progressed I began seeing more and more of his work on a steadier basis. Not just in trade journals but in the larger mainstream publications.

I kept seeing his work show up in Playboy regularly. His lovable blob-like characters were what made his drawing style instantly identifiable. And all he signed them by was the simple three letters of “Mal”, short for Malcolm of course.

Mal has an interesting story that led him to cartooning

Cartoonist Mal Hancock didn’t start out as a cartoonist like so many of us. It was an odd “twist of fate” if you will, that really took him into that direction. I was sifting through my old stack of Editor & Publisher magazine’s ‘Syndicates / News Services’ tear sheets and stumbled upon this article by George L. Beiswinger of Berwyn, Pennsylvania who was probably freelancing for the Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. Knight-Ridder group at the time this story was called for.

Because it was a feature that was entitled ‘Phil and Del‘ that was done by Mal for the Phildelphia Newspapers, Inc. who were using the cartoon characters each Sunday as fillers for their Sunday Comics sections of their newspaper group. This obviously gave Mal additional notoriety aside from his work that was regularly published in TV Guide, Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest and so many others. Hugh Hefner liked Mal’s toons so much, Mal gave Playboy “first-refusal rights” to all of his new panels he’d create. Impressive to say the least!
Mal also created other cartoon features he aimed for syndicating and Whitegate Features Syndicate distributed his cartoon entitled “Willy” and another aptly named “Malfunction Junction“. He previously did another cartoon feature that was syndicated entitled “Nibbles” that was distributed by the George Matthew Adams Service. Another pantomime (or captionless cartoon) was entitled “Humphrey Hush” and   was also circulated by the same distributor. That cartoon was later renamed to “Foster Fenwick“. The article goes on to state that Mal was a one-man cartoon industry and nothing could say more, based on how prolific he was. I enjoyed his work while he was producing it and thought his story is worthy of recapping here on the ToonBlog.