American Icons: Mad Magazine


Friday, July 25, 2014

American Icons: Mad Magazine

This is the magazine that made America snarky.

In 1954, a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating juvenile delinquency called William Gaines, publisher of the successful EC Comics, to testify. “You think it does the children a lot of good to read these things?” asked the subcommittee’s counsel. “I don’t think it does them a bit of good, sir, but I don’t think it does them a bit of harm, either,” Gaines said.

Before Congress could take action, comics publishers decided to regulate themselves. They adopted the Code of the Comics Association, which sharply limited violence, kissing, and other fun stuff in comics. To get around these strictures, Gaines turned Mad Comics — which parodied other comic books — into Mad Magazine. Harvey Kurtzman, the editor, “starts mining all of American culture,” says Maria Reidelbach, the author of Completely Mad: A History of the Comic Book and Magazine. Movies, television, books, even Broadway shows that kids probably hadn’t seen, all became fair game to Mad writers.

That juvenile, subversive undercutting of the adult world was tremendously influential for the kids who became the counterculture. In his book The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, sociologist Todd Gitlin wrote, “Mad pulled the plug and said, ‘The Lone Ranger, Wonder Bread, and TV commercials — even Marlon Brando — are ridiculous!’”

Yet in mocking so much of the adult world, Mad was also slyly educational. Longtime writer Arnie Kogen says, “I never aimed anything at kids. I just wrote what I thought was funny. If kids got it, they got it. If they didn’t get it, that was their problem.” On one page, Mad would parody TV shows, and would be talking about Soviet politics on the next. In 1963, they ran a parody of West Side Story’s “Jet Song” called “When You’re a Red.”

When you’re a Red,
You’re a Red all the way
From your first party purge
To your last power play

Roger Ebert credited Mad’s movie parodies with teaching him to watch with a critical eye. “Mad’s parodies made me aware of the machine inside the skin — of the way a movie might look original on the outside, while inside it was just recycling the same old dumb formulas,” Ebert wrote in his forward to Mad About the Movies.

By this point, several generations of comedy writers have been reared on Mad Magazine, and its influence extends to shows like South Park, The Daily Show, and The Simpsons, which has explicitly paid tribute to Mad. Even Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, has cited Mad as an inspiration. The magazine’s parody of Madison Avenue gave Weiner his first look at a “drunken, callow, glib, self-serving ad man,” as he wrote in the book Inside Mad.

The Mad sensibility shaped today’s culture of clever, snide sarcasm — the ubiquitous style we call snark. Todd Gitlin says, “Mad won. Mad is now the dominant culture. Today, being unserious is the premium posture.” But even a comedy writer (and son of a Mad pioneer) like Jay Kogen sees a downside to Mad’s victory. “It supports the idea that it’s better to be cynical than to really feel something,” Kogen reflects. “I’ve been much more ready to pick something apart and to make fun of it rather than to just enjoy it.”

“I don’t think that until I had a child was I able to appreciate that there is such a thing as innocent joy,” Kogen adds. “There’s something to be said for sincerity.”

Slideshow: The Evolution of Mad Magazine

The first cover of the original Mad Comics, published in August 1952.
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

The first cover of the original Mad Comics, published in August 1952.

The first cover of Mad Magazine. To avoid following the rules of the Code Comics Association, which severely restricted things like violence and kissing, Mad Comics was reborn as Mad Magazine.
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

To avoid following the rules of the Code Comics Association, which severely restricted things like violence and kissing in comic books, Mad Comics was reborn as Mad Magazine in 1955.

The original portrait of Alfred E. Neuman, Mad’s mascot, painted by Norman Mingo.
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

The original portrait of Alfred E. Neuman, Mad’s mascot, painted by Norman Mingo.

Neuman’s face first appeared on the cover of Issue #30 in March 1955. Prior to that issue, he had appeared in the pages of Mad under different names.
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

Neuman’s face first appeared on the cover of Issue #30 in March 1955. Prior to that issue, he had appeared in the pages of Mad under different names.

In 1963, Mad parodied the Cold War with the comic
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

In 1963, Mad parodied the Cold War with the comic "East Side Story." (Click here to view larger)

Mad parodied the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

Mad parodied the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with "Who in the Heck is Virginia Woolf?" Film critic Roger Ebert credited Mad movie spoofs like this one for teaching him how to watch movies with a critical eye. (Click here to view larger)

A comic from the August 2014 edition spoofing Russian president Vladmir Putin.
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

A comic from the August 2014 edition spoofing Russian president Vladmir Putin.

Mad continues to skewer pop culture well into the 21st century. Here, Pharrell William’s hit song “Happy” is rewritten as “Appy,” making fun of the modern obsession with apps.
Courtesy of Mad Magazine

Mad continues to skewer pop culture well into the 21st century. Here, Pharrell William’s hit song “Happy” is rewritten as “Appy,” making fun of the modern obsession with apps. (Click here to view larger)

    Music Playlist
  1. It's a Gas!
    Album: Alfred E. Neuman Vocalizes
    Label: MAD
  2. What, Me Worry?
    Artist: Alfred E. Neuman & The Furshlugginer Five
    Album: Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman Sings What — Me Worry?
    Label: ABC Paramount
  3. When You're a Red
    Artist: George Babiak and Carl Riehl

    Recorded at WNYC

  4. Colloquy
    Composer: Alex North
    Album: Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf
    Label: Drg
  5. A Beautiful Mine
    Artist: Aceyalone & RJD2
    Album: Mad Men (Music From The Television Series)
    Label: Manhattan Records
    Purchase: Amazon
  6. But Beautiful
    Artist: Chick Corea
    Album: Further Explorations
    Label: Concord Jazz
    Purchase: Amazon


Todd Gitlin, Jay Kogen and Maria Reidelbach

Produced by:

Trey Kay

Comments [46]

Peterson Toscano from Sunbury, PA

Wow, hearing your piece about Mad Magazine and remembering the many issues of delicious comedy I consumed in my childhood, helped me relive my early love of parody and snark. Listening to your piece with the many excerpts from the magazine, I realized how much that Mad world influences my work today as a human rights activist and someone so concerned about climate change that I am doing comedy about it through my Climate Stew Podcast. Now I am thinking of each short quirky character-driven episode jammed filled with micro-jokes, meta-jokes, and screwball jokes as the love children of Alfred E Newman and that younger me trying to make sense of the wacky world around me.


Jan. 08 2015 04:25 PM
ellen from Manhattan

Bob Warshow was the film critic for Commentary Magazine in the 1950s. He was an astute observer of the incursion of pop culture and wrote both passionately and intellectually about its effects in "The Immediate Experience." There was only one hitch - his beloved son, Paul, discovered Mad Magazine when he was about 9 and became totally enamored. Every other word from his mouth was about Mad (Paul devoured things whole). Bob writes beautifully about his attempts to reconcile both. Bob was dating my mother when all this was taking place. He was a lovely, kind, loving man and his adoration of his son knew no bounds. Paul was bright, funny, annoying, and so smart! I remember those years so fondly.

Jan. 04 2015 02:35 PM
Anya from Brooklyn

Not sure who clued me in to Mad, but I had a subscription starting around age 10 or 11, through the early and mid 1970s. As a ravenous Stark Trek fan I loved the 1976 parody (Mr. Schlock and Captain Quirk on the starship "Improvise"). Lots of silliness and social commentary laced with puns put me in mind of the Marx Brothers, also a hot item in the '70s! Thanks for the piece.

Jan. 03 2015 05:08 PM
Tweedle Dee from Western USA

A good story. Just one complaint: I almost turned this off when it got to the part where an overexcited 10-year-old boy squealed "It was funny! It was just really funneeeee!!!!" I liked the interview with DiBartolo, though.

Aug. 14 2014 02:21 PM
Lane from Maryland

Who can tell me which issue had the parody of the poem I Remember. I believe it came out in 1961-63. It started like this...

I Remember, I Remember the cell where I was kept,
the little window where the sun came peeping while I slept,
it never came a wink too soon, nor brought too long a day,
I needed light to dig a hole to make my getaway.
I Remember, I Remember the wardens anxious call,
to find out where all the water came streaming down the hall,
he called me to his office, I stood there staunch and brave,
and blamed the whole big bundle on Left, Moe and Dave.

Aug. 14 2014 10:39 AM
George from Toronto

A fond memory from my childhood when The Mad Show musical came to the Royal Alex theatre in Toronto in the sixties. My father and older brother sat patiently (semi-patiently) through the production with me.

Aug. 12 2014 07:29 AM
Linda from Brooklyn from Currently, Salem MA

My first issue featured Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar. Here, in the midst of trees and cows was anarchy. My dear cousin Loren lent me his stash and my Grandmother burned them. I repaired this years later by sending him a Mad treasury. (Trashery?) Mad influenced me to grow up, leave Middle America, move to New York, and marry out of my faith, all to excellent conclusions.

Aug. 11 2014 10:42 AM
Steve K from Englewood, NJ

As a kid around 1969 (12-13 years old) I would submit drawings to MAD. Imagine my shock when I got a return letter from the editor inviting me over to their offices! A short time later I hopped on the PATH train from Journal Square, Jersey City, manila envelope full of more drawings in hand, and headed for Midtown. I would say my MAD experience was half disappointing, half incredible. I found the editor at the time (who by the way lived in Jersey City and whose name I can't remember) shockingly humorless — BUT! a large man in white beard was drawing on the walls! The editor explained that they were going to have the offices painted so a few of the artists were "having some fun." After a few words of encouragement from the editor I was sent on my way. I remember having a steak and giant piece of garlic (?) bread at Tad's ($3.99 if my memory serves me), exploring the neighborhood a little, and then hopping back on the PATH. So who do I bump into on the ride home? The same MAD editor! We glanced at each other, nodded, but no words were exchanged.

Aug. 08 2014 10:37 AM
Tristram from NJ

I well remember seeing the first issue of Mad comics on a newstand in Elizabeth, NJ. I didn't buy it. :-( The subtitle was "Humor in a jugular vein"...and I didn't like horror commics. A couple of months later I bought issue #3, and found out what I'd been missing!

Aug. 06 2014 06:22 PM
steve from ct

Enjoyed the story, as well as Mad magazine. I did not hear a reference to Mark Twain, the original American source of poking fun at the rich and powerful as well as ourselves (human beings) pompous, biased, deserving to be take down a notch or two or three.

Aug. 06 2014 05:13 PM
Sarafinabloom from Upstate NY

I always associate this Strangely Believe It factoid with a guest by Sid Caesar: "Ducks cannot fly! They are extremely good jumpers."

Aug. 06 2014 12:14 PM
hairyapple from the 5th state

DonMartin! No not DocMartin, DonMartin! How often dd you ever laugh out loud at a comic strip? NoT very often I bet unless it was something by DonMartin or maybe Gary Larsen.

Aug. 04 2014 06:06 PM
Paul Karasik

Once again, Harvey Kurtzman gets short shrift. True, MAD became a much more influential cultural barometer under Al Feldstein's editorship, and the brilliant work done by his stable of writers and artists in the 1960's is what we think of when we think about MAD...but there would be no MAD without Kurtzman.

Harvey Kurtzman figured out how to forge satire out of comics. The MAD Form all flows from his intelligent constructions based on a deep understanding of the language of comics. The MAD Content all flows from his skepticism suspecting that anything marked "NEW" and "IMPROVED" is likely to be the same old crap.

Yes: all late 20th century American popular humor can be traced to MAD, but the genius who started MAD was Harvey Kurtzman.

Aug. 03 2014 06:11 PM
Peter Nelson from Chelmsford, MA

I loved Mad but the funniest Mad movie parody I ever saw was not in Mad Magazine. It was published in the early 1970's in the Harvard Lampoon (although allegedly some Mad staffers were involved in its making).

It was a parody of Citizen Kane called "Citizen Gaines" and started with the death of the great publisher ("...what, me dead?"). His last words were "...satire", The movie consisted of a series of flashbacks as a reporter tried to uncover the meaning of this word. The standing joke was that none of Bill Gaines' associates at Mad Magazine had any idea what "satire" meant.

The meaning is revealed in the end as the great man's personal effects were being thrown into the furnace. One of the items was the famous Mad dirigible. And written on its side, just as a blimp we all know has "Goodyear" written on it, was "USA Tire and Rubber Company", the "...SA Tire..." forming the mysterious word.

Aug. 03 2014 04:09 PM

For what it is, this was a fine segment. I don't believe it intended to do anything more than scratch the edge of the surface of discussing Mad, or even only its influence on our culture.
I agree with a previous commenter, the one great oversight of this edition of Studio360 was not mentioning artist Mort Walker's contribution to the parodies Nick DeBartolo wrote. (It was a separate, adjacent segment to the American Icons segment on this page.) It continues the plain-wrong habit of leaving artists out, not crediting them for creating comics, or assuming writers are more important than artists; one would think that by now, with decades of academic treatments of comics behind us, it would be well-established that, in many if not most comics, the artist is the co-creator and co-author of the work, using visual language as much as a writer uses words-with-letters-on-a-page language. If Studio360's producers edited out DeBartolo's mention of the artists he collaborated with (as I assume) they should be ashamed.
And while I'm on the DeBartolo segment, I'm sad to just now realize that although I've paid attention to gay-focused media, as an Out Gay man since the late 1970s myself, it never mentioned Mad had or has an openly Gay creator for forty-five years (not that I'm aware of, not that his name and credits ever come up in discussions of Gay creators).
But what motivated me to leave a comment was the other commenters almost without exception treating Mad Magazine solely as an nostalgic experience. Yes, Kurt specifically asked for listener memories (which I feel was a disservice). But it's not like Mad is dead! Heck, even the recent appearance of a Mad program on Cartoon Network - which is as funny and well-targeted as the magazine - wasn't mentioned!
Mad was wobbly for some years after Gaines died, but has found its footing for the better part of the last decade, and found new talent to revive it. Support your local, no-longer-ubiquitous, kid-friendly, adult-smart humor magazine!
What we who recall Mad's first two decades don't notice is Mad on newsstands any longer - and how many newsstands, or comics on newsstands, do you see any more, period? Mad now is sold mostly to in-store subscribers at comic book stores or actual mailed and electronic subscriptions.
It's up to individuals to keep track of what's no longer automatically a part of one's life anymore. One might start by picking up a current issue, and paying attention to - even learning the names of - the creators of the magazine. I'm kind of angry that so many people wrote to say they remember Marginal Thinking fondly but they've never bothered to learn the name Sergio Aragones, the artist/writer who produced them (nor read any of the thousands of other stories he's produced).

Aug. 01 2014 05:27 PM
Chico Huff from Glen Mills, PA

And of course Will Elder!!

Jul. 29 2014 11:18 PM
Chico Huff from Glen Mills, PA

Thanks so much for this piece!! Like probably many others I came across Mad Magazine through an older sibling of a good friends collection that we used to sneak in a read. Just brilliant and a sensibility that spoke directly to me, the art first and the text as I grew older. Personal faves, everything by Don Martin (whom I wished more was mentioned about in the piece), the art of John Severin and Wally Wood, and the movie parodies and art of Mort Drucker. Loved the magazines but particularly loved the series of paperback books. brilliant!!

Jul. 29 2014 11:12 PM
Thad Komorowski from New York

If your goal was to make something as pure and fun as MAD white bread and bland... mission accomplished.

Jul. 29 2014 02:47 PM
babs jaffe from NY, NY

I not only visited the office on Madison Av. back in the late '70s (but was too shy to say hello to Bill), but I gatecrashed Bill's memorial service. I know he was looking down with approval!
George Woodbridge defined the 60s. No one can draw a hippie like he did. Great show!

Jul. 29 2014 01:14 PM
gary v from NYC

One seminal source of MAD's sense of humor:

Jul. 29 2014 11:05 AM
Laurie bachner from New York

So nice to hear Dick DeBartolo go on and on about his great movie satires and how much George Lucas revered his parody on Star Wars Could the reason George Lucas hung it on his bathroom wall and why so many MAD subscribers loved theses movie satires be solely the incredible script of Mr DeBartolos?? Or maybe it was the contribution of the artist called MORT DRUCKER! DUH!!! How could Mort Druckers name not b mentioned during this entire program The movie and TV satires were the heart and soul of this magazine And not solely because of YOUR great writing Dick It was a collaborative effort It was Mort Druckers incredible caracitures, his choice of illustration that brought your words to life! Shame on u that there is so little room in your minds eye to share the spot light

Jul. 28 2014 10:44 PM
paul kollmar from nyc

Didn't the whole elusive style evolve from the semitic faith?? I mean ROSEMARY"S BOO BOO was even superceding IRA LEVIN's intentional put down back in 1967--!!-It took Roman Polanski to take it to the enth-- degree when a sacred -COW such as the Immaculate conception got the roast/treatment by and for a savvy readership???--Charles Manson got his idea from the SACRED COW'S appearance in a GET SMART episode as the groovy guru((Larry Storch)!THRILL THRILL THRILL..... KILL KILL KILL!!!==pk

Jul. 28 2014 08:51 PM

I'm in my eighth decade and still have my collection of 1950s MAD in the attic. As a teenager, I well remember pedaling my bike across town in summer to get my monthly MAD fix for a quarter. Another commenter practically took the words out of my mouth, but my interest in an art career also began with MAD and the Sunday comics. I especially admired the art of Wood, Davis, and Elder, and I still have to tip my cap to those artists. By the way, wasn't Alfred E. Neuman also known as Elliot Coznowski and Billy Poobah?

Jul. 28 2014 04:35 PM
NormaDesperate from NYC

I had a subscription to MAD from the time I was 10 yrs. old to well into my forties (I'm 60 now) when they started accepting advertising. They taught me early on to not trust my gov't (and man, were they right!), that parents were people too and that most things in the world will NEVER make sense, so you might as well just laugh at them. The brightest and the best worked at MAD and I'm proud to say that my critical eye, cynical slant and deep appreciation for all things funny were learned suckling at Alfred E.'s teet. In honor of the wisdom he and the usual gang of idiots imparted in me, I have something MAD-related in almost every room of my apt. It's to remind myself that to have a sense of humor means you're way ahead of the game or as Alfred would say, "What Me Worry?".

Jul. 28 2014 08:31 AM

I'm not sure i want to blame MAD Mag for this,but wanton cynicism is the default mode in America,and it has been for a long long time. irony is dead,because just about everything is smirk/snark centric. you need a baseline of seriousness on some level, for irony to play off of,that's gone. i grew up in NYC,and now just about the whole country is like us. "how cool am i,i'm a cynical bastard,i don't have to discern or believe in anything". it's a precription for non-intellectualism,since the "disser",never has an obligation to be informed about anything. i don't know that MAD has won,as much as MAD is part of an insidious amoral culture, that pokes fun and mocks for its own sake. morality, has become more or less minimally relevant to too many people. if you look at most American humor,it's dumbed down looking at the obvious,subtlety is gone. even raunchy humor, used to have a higher meta-message in it,ie Pryor and Bruce. now, it's just stupid laughs for the sake of empty nothingness. Ironically,perhaps,i can stomach 'family guy', more than i can 'the Simpsons'. one pretends to give us an insane story worth caring about['Simpsons'],the other just does zany decontextualized riffs. i find that 'family guy' for all of its excess and distastefulness,more honest and lacking pretense than 'the Simpsons'.

Jul. 28 2014 02:40 AM
pammy from Texas

Instant and lasting relationships often form when you realize that someone can tolerate your sense of humor. My husband and I discovered this connection from day one and, as newlyweds in 1978, we celebrated our union by eating chocolate ice cream and sharing quips from Mad magazine such as “be careful who you marry because everything is going to get bigger and hairier and closer to the ground.” Our kids were raised right, so they also appreciate the rag. Thus, when he died in 1998, we honored his memory by eating chocolate ice cream and sharing Mad magazine.

Jul. 28 2014 01:08 AM
Emily Audra from Stow, OH

Decades later, I'm still laughing at the Mad Magazine feature which spoofed then President Nixon.

It showed the White House. The sign posted over the roof said, "NIXXON- Still the Same Old Gas."

Those editors elevated satire to a brand new level!

Jul. 28 2014 01:00 AM
Nelson Greenfield from Dallas, TX

I've been a Graphic Designer for over 30 years, and I can easily say that a major part of my art and design education can be attributed to Mad. I learned about anatomy, shading and cross-hatching, perspective and architectural structure, and the way cartooning and caricature condenses and edits, from Wally Wood, Bill Elder, Jack Davis (and his beautiful crowd scenes), George Woodbridge and Mort Drucker. Two-page splash panels were like Christmas to me. I would pour over the pages, almost microscopically studying how they were drawn. I copied them like they were Old Masters in an art gallery. It still amazes me how well-made that publication was.

Jul. 27 2014 08:09 PM
albert from new jersey, at the moment.

take a look at luis bunuel's land without bread. the documentary covers life in an isolated, mountain village where incest runs rampant. a close up of a resident IS alfred e. newman. i'd bet the ranch this face was an inspiration. kinda sheds new light on our hero.

Jul. 27 2014 02:57 PM
Maryann from Charlottesville, VA

The bit I remember best, apart from It's a Gas, is Children's Safety Songs, and specifically it's a Grand Old Bag, sung to the tune of You're a Grand Old Flag. It warned of the dangers of plastic bags, particularly the ones that came on dry cleaning, which then were becoming ubiquitous. I still don't know why that song tickled me so.
I'm visiting my 9 year old granddaughter now and I think I might just have to see if I can find it anywhere online. It's high time she was introduced to Mad!

Jul. 27 2014 02:29 PM
Mike from Connecticut

Your piece brought back a treasured memory of being in eighth grade in a Catholic school. One afternoon, I was reading Mad Magazine inside my open history book during class, and I got caught by the nun. I contemplated what my fate might be as she confiscated my Mad and sat down with it at her desk. I was surprised when I saw her start flipping through the magazine and even more surprised to see her smiling and nearly laughing out loud as she went from page to page. It was the first time that I had ever seen any evidence that underneath her black habit and severe demeanor, she might have a sense of humor. The punishment for my crime? I had to wait until she thoroughly read the entire magazine before she gave it back to me!

Jul. 27 2014 12:44 PM
David Wilds from Portland, TN

In 7th grade (1957) it was forbidden to have any comic book at school, especially MAD. We worked really hard to always have MAD paperbacks hidden in our desks. Every time a new kid was fronted a loaner we knew we'd all live through every line that made the new guys head explode. "But but what about the part where there was a noise & they thought it was a space monster. 'No no, Capt TVideo explained...that's just Fallonna choking on a peach pit.' ".

Loved & treasured every word of those paperbacks.

Jul. 27 2014 12:08 PM
KMin from Queens, NY

At that age, we were just past baseball cards and looking for a more lasting thrill. Car magazines, any media with a flash of female parts and Nintendo sustained our evolving tastes that much longer. At the 7-11, they wouldn't push, so you could grope through aisles of magazines and casually hunt down your next purchase with a Slurpee in hand.

I'd always stop by Mad Magazine and do the fold-in, enjoying a private moment of revelation with my cup parked on the floor. Sometimes I'd buy the issue. Sometimes not. The five bucks mom gave you went further those days.

Jul. 27 2014 12:01 PM
ellen from Manhattan

In the very early 1950's my mother dated a sophisticated film critic who also wrote brilliantly popular culture. His son, aged about 9, had discovered Pogo and Mad Magazine and was devoted to both. The father thought Mad was the end of intelligent discourse as we knew it, but couldn't help but be charmed by his son's joyful passion. I think Paul was Mad's most devoted follower and I know when they visited the office, unlike some they had a wonderful time.

Jul. 27 2014 11:42 AM
Paula Kaplan-Reiss from East Brunswick, NJ

Great piece. Love listening to Trey Kay and nothing was better than the 'Fold-In.' Can still see the Alfred E. Neuman look alike in Asbury Park.

Jul. 27 2014 11:40 AM
julie from Cleveland, Ohio

Great episode! Zowie, the usual gang of idiots are around and kicking. Al Jaffee is 93! I devoured MAD as a kid. Hell, I devoured it in grad school. Not sure I'm better off with the New Yorker in my old-middle age.

My sibs and I quote MAD to this day. Remember "Fiddle-dee-dee. Boom!"? That was Gone With the Wind via Reader's Digest condensed books via MAD. The entire book.

Jul. 27 2014 10:55 AM
Michael G from Santa Fe, NM

When I was ten years old or so, my cousins and I would crowd around the black-and-white TV console upon which lay a MAD Magazine (also black-and-white). We laughed and laughed as the eldest read to us from it. In those days, the gap-toothed kid was called Melvin Cowznofski.

Jul. 27 2014 12:50 AM
Ben Eastburn from Johnson City TX

As I recall there was one concession to P.C. Alfred E's original name was Melvyn E. Kosnofsky.

Jul. 26 2014 06:21 PM
Elizabeth Lewis from White Plains, NY

I remember "Mad" magazine from the '50's. The face of Alfred E. Newman is still a vivid image. I remember though the thing I liked best was the cartoon depiction of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who looked rather like a black cat. Since I feared and detested McCarthy, I was made very happy by that particular piece of political satire. It gave me hope that justice and reason would prevail.

Jul. 26 2014 06:02 PM
Barbara Lippert from New York City

Loved this piece, loved MAD Magazine. I smile just thinking about it.
I especially liked the cartoons in the margins and around the top corners of the pages, One, which I first read when I was 10, I think, still has me cackling aloud: one side shows a drawing of a house with a "music school" shingle. Waiting outside, in line, are students carrying their various instruments: a guitar, a flute,a trumpet, etc etc.The last guy on line had a piano on his back. HAHAHAHAHAHA! I'm not sure why, but it still kills me.

Jul. 26 2014 04:50 PM
Nancy from NEW YORK

love the APPY it on YouTube so I can watch it on my smartphone?

Jul. 26 2014 04:39 PM
kipsydaisy from Brooklyn

"Mad" magazine invented snark? Nobody tell Oscar Wilde.

Jul. 26 2014 04:28 PM
Jack Lewis from Elizabethtown, PA

Born in 1951, there were two magazines I read regularly in the 1960s: TIME and MAD. TIME kept me up to date on national and world events. MAD made all of those events less threatening and something to laugh about.

Jul. 26 2014 04:07 PM
Phil Bach from Boston


I had no idea Mad was still around. As a 12 year old, my first proceeds from lawn mowing went to buy a Mad subscription. Alfred E. Newman is, of course, alive, well and serving in all branches of government.

Jul. 26 2014 08:26 AM
Al Sirois from Bucks County PA

I read MAD religiously when I was a kid. As a budding artist (and, let's be frank -- as a budding smart-ass, too) I particularly enjoyed the fantastic cartooning. I learned how to draw partly by copying stuff out of old MAD paperbacks. So imagine how thrilled I was when I got to work for the great Wally Wood, one of the original MAD artists, for several years in the 1970s. And I owe it all to MAD, that furshlugginer magazine.

Jul. 26 2014 08:17 AM

I most remember reading contributions from Ernie Kovacs, Danny Kaye, Bob and Ray, and the usual gang of idiots.

Jul. 25 2014 06:57 PM

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