Hey, Alfred E. Neuman, say it isn’t so! MAD magazine is stopping its presses for America’s groundbreaking, irreverent, hilarious and brilliantly illustrated treasure of satire and art that had no equal in magazine publishing.
I was a fourth-grader in 1958 when I began reading MAD and was captivated by the magnificent cartoons and gut-busting humorous prose. I didn’t understand every political or cultural reference then, yet reveled at their comic take on politicians, movies, TV, commercials and the eccentric silliness that wielded a poker at convention and human foibles.
Lord Byron wrote “I’ll publish right or wrong. Fools are my theme. Let satire be my song.” MAD’s melodies made us feel smart.
MAD’s gap-toothed mascot Alfred E. Neuman’s signature line was “What, me worry?” MAD’s demise now makes me worry there is no replacement that can attract both young and older readers who revel in illustrated social satire.
I passed on my MAD love to my sons and encouraged their readership.
In the late 1990s, my oldest and I visited New York City to celebrate his graduation from Fargo South High School. Aside from the thrill of attending Broadway theaters and Big Apple art galleries, we happened upon the MAD offices close to the Ed Sullivan Theater. I suggested that we attempt to get in.
To my tepid anticipation, we hit the building’s elevator and got off at the MAD floor. To my amazement, the only man working there let us in and granted a tour. I told him I’d been reading it since the 50s and had passed on the tradition to my boys. He looked at my first born, then gazed at me with great earnestness, shook his head and snarled with solemnity “What kind of father are you?” What a joy for both of us-to be insulted by an editor from MAD Magazine!
MAD’s passing has melancholy for those who consumed Don Martin’s floppy-footed fools and funny words, Al Jaffee’s scribbles, and the demi-gods of American caricature, Mort Drucker and Jack Davis, along with many others-whom the magazine always described as the “usual gang of idiots.” There were many of us idiots who loved that gang.