PORTLAND, Maine — Growing up in Yarmouth, Mort Todd loved to write and draw. By the time he was 12 and working as a junior counselor at a summer camp in Brunswick, he was getting paid, in part, to publish the camp’s weekly newspaper.
“We’d draw the covers and write all the content and doodle and everything,” he recalled. “Then during the off months when they didn’t have camp I was, like, 'You don’t really need that printing machine, do you?' So I’d take it home and print my own comics.”
Crazy about comic books and a fast learner, he moved at 17 to New York City and started to get work as a writer and illustrator.
At 18, he sold his first screenplay. At 23, he was named editor of the satirical humor magazine “Cracked," which was selling hundreds of thousands of copies a month.
His youthfulness, he said, did not work against him.
“The only people who were concerned were people who didn’t have any confidence in their own work," he said.
About 10 years ago, Todd moved back to Maine and settled in Portland. Working out of a studio near Longfellow Square with just a smattering of the vast trove of memorabilia he’s acquired over the decades (there’s a Spider-Man suit hanging in the kitchen closet), he still takes great joy in writing, drawing, editing, and more.
His latest project—the book “Mort Todd’s Monsters Attack!”—is a labor of love that brings to a new audience work he helped create in the 1980s.
What he loved as a kid still inspires him, and that’s not going to change. (Asked to describe his artistic sensibility, he says, “Nutty.”) It comes down to what enthralled him when he was eight years old and devouring comic books, all kinds of comic books.
“I’ve always,” he said, “been into the weird stuff.”