William Elder, the illustrator who pioneered the visual style for iconic humour title Mad Magazine, has died at the age of 86.

Gary VandenBergh, Elder's son-in-law, told comic world blog Journalista that the pioneering cartoonist died early Thursday morning after having battled Parkinson's disease for several years. DC Comics, which now owns Mad, also confirmed the news in a statement.

"Willie Elder was one of the funniest artists to ever work for Mad," John Ficarra, one of the humour title's editors, said in a release.

"Willie's 'anything goes' art style set the tone for the entire magazine and created a look that endures to this day."

Born in New York, Elder studied at Manhattan's High School of Music and Art, where he met writer and Mad magazine founder Harvey Kurtzman. 

After a stint in the army during the Second World War, he teamed up with Kurtzman and Charles Stern to start an art studio that produced comics for several publishers. 

In 1952, the duo launched Mad, with Elder creating the satirical, cartoony visuals for the influential title. He would become renowned for his packed panels, crammed full of background gags and jokes he later dubbed "chicken fat."

After they left Mad in 1956, Elder and Kurtzman's new collaborations included short-lived humour magazines such as Humbug and Help! as well as the comic characters Goodman Beaver and Little Annie Fanny, who was created expressly for Playboy and was featured in the magazine for about 25 years.

During his career, Elder also created myriad book and magazine illustrations, advertisements and caricatures. He retired in 1988 and his work was collected in several volumes, including Will Elder: The Mad Playboy of Art and, most recently, Chicken Fat, released in 2006.

He was inducted into the U.S. Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2003.