Since 1961 this black and white wordless comic strip has been one of MAD Magazine's biggest success. Created by Antonio Prohías, an internationally respected and talented Cuban cartoonist, Spy vs. Spy was meant to ridicule the Cold War, its ideologies, arms race and resort to espionage.
Spy vs. Spy's main characters are Black Spy and White Spy (translated into X and Y, or Spion & Spion outside the US). Both look exactly alike, dressed in trenchcoat and hat, except for the color of their uniform. Their sole purpose in life is to destroy one another, by whichever means possible, preferably in the most bizarre and sophisticated ways conceivable. In many cases, the spies use crazy contraptions to counter the other spy's trap.
Now in the first comics, the victory of one spy over the other was not always a given, since sometimes both spies would come up with the same evil plan to kill their enemy, which resulted in infinite warring without any clear outcome. Usually though, one spy would outsmart the other and make a V sign with his hand. Prohías would then expose the pointlessness of it all by reviving his characters over and over again. He also added a new feature by creating "Lady in Grey", a character which both Black and White are deeply infatuated with. She appeared in the comic strip between 1962 and 1965, changing the title to "Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy" and always won by inciting the two agents to rescue her.
At times, secret missions are given out by the White or Black Embassy to their respective spy employee. When miscarried, the spies are sometimes fired or killed out of spite by their own superiors, drawn out as enormous, highly decorated military leaders or diplomats. These high-ranking men are shown in very few strips, and have never resurfaced after the comic was passed on to other cartoonists.
Antonio Prohías initiated and drew the strip from 1961 to 1987, at which point he chose to retire due to illness. He left behind him unfinished sketches that were later finished or "ghosted" by friends Don "Duck" Ewing and Bob Clark. Ewing and Clark did a large number of Spy vs. Spy works as well as two Spy vs. Spy paperback books (The Updated Files #7 and #8 ). In 1995, David Manak started contributing and was given unpublished sketches from Antonio Prohías. Finally, in 1997, American artist Peter Kuper took over the series and worked them in spray paint, his preferred style. To this day, he is still in charge of the strip.
MAD's Spy vs. Spy comic has led to the creation of series of animated shorts, video-games, advertisements and board games based on the two famous Cold War comic icons.