❚ THE CREATIVE GIANT WHO EDITED America’s most influential satirical magazine has died. From 1956 Al Feldstein took the circulation of Mad from 400,000 to a peak of 2,850,000, and spent 29 years not only making a young generation laugh but fearlessly challenging sacred cows and urging scepticism about the American Dream and its furshlugginer advocates (a not-Yiddish word invented for the purpose). One issue a few years ago contained contributions from ten Pulitzer-winning cartoonists. In creating an American institution, Feldstein paved the way for National Lampoon, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, South Park, The Onion – and for Britain’s Viz magazine, according to its editor Graham Dury, creator of the Fat Slags…
“ The founding editor, Harvey Kurtzman, established its well-informed irreverence, but Al Feldstein gave Mad its identity as a smart-alecky, sniggering and indisputably clever spitball-shooter of a publication with a scattershot look, dominated by gifted cartoonists of wildly differing styles.
In his second issue, Mr Feldstein seized on a character who had appeared only marginally in the magazine — a freckled, gaptoothed, big-eared, glazed-looking young man — and put his image on the cover, identifying him as a write-in candidate for president campaigning under the slogan “What, me worry?”
At first he went by Mel Haney, Melvin Cowznofski and other names. But when the December 1956 issue, No 30, identified him as Alfred E. Neuman, the name stuck.
He became the magazine’s perennial cover boy, appearing in dozens of guises, including as a joker on a playing card, an ice-skating barrel jumper, a totem on a totem pole, a football player, a yogi, a construction worker, King Kong atop the Empire State Building… Neuman signaled the magazine’s editorial attitude, which fell somewhere between juvenile nose-thumbing at contemporary culture and sophisticated spoofing… ” / Continued at NYTimes
Click any pic to launch slideshow
➢ He was not a warm and fuzzy guy –
David Colker in the LA Times:
“ The goofy, cartoon face of Alfred E. Neuman looked out from the cover of Mad magazine for decades in various guises, always with the same message: “What, Me Worry?”
“He looked like a boob, but he had a very interesting philosophy,” said Al Feldstein, who as editor built Mad from near-obscurity in the 1950s into a satirical powerhouse, “meaning no matter how bad things get, if you maintain a sense of humor, you can get through it.” Under Feldstein, who edited Mad from 1956 to 1984, the magazine skewered presidents, the Cold War, the tobacco industry, Madison Avenue advertising, Hollywood and numerous other targets. And its legacy from that time lives on.
“Basically, everyone who was young between 1955 and 1975 read Mad,” comedy writer/producer Bill Oakley said in the book The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. “That’s where your sense of humor came from… ” / Continued in LA Times
➢ Today, Mad is published by DC Entertainment – The latest issue No 526 is the Lego issue (right), after the number one movie in America.
“ Comics in the 50s didn’t encourage people to question anything – everything was more about being pleasant and not rocking the boat. Mad came along and started picking holes in the American Dream, suggesting the products Americans were buying were crap, their leaders were clueless and that the people were being treated like dicks. These days everyone’s a cynical bastard, but Mad invented it…” / Continued at Anorak online
➢ The UK edition of Mad Magazine, published by Thorpe and Porter, began in 1959 – Over the years there were a number of UK sourced covers and sometimes UK produced interior stories. View a few Mad UK covers from the 1970s with such topics as British Rail, Doctor Who, the Royal Family… even the long-running TV soap opera Coronation Street.