It’s been written that “At the height of its influence, Mad was The Simpsons, The Daily Show and The Onion combined.” Of course, that was written by a “comics historian,” and who could argue with an authority like that?
Mad came into being in 1952 under the inspiration of editor/writer Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines. The publication started as a comic book before being converted to a magazine in 1955. In the early days, Mad focused on satires of comic books (“Superduperman”), movies (“Hah! Noon!”), and TV shows (“Howdy Dooit!”).
Through the years, some of the greatest comic artists contributed regularly to Mad. Men like Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, Dave Berg, Mort Drucker, and Sergio Aragones elevated the magazine’s circulation to a high of 2.1 million in 1974.
If you were a fan as I once was, you have a soft spot for the magazine’s regular features, including: The fold-ins, “The Lighter Side of…”, Spy vs. Spy, Scenes We’d Like to See, You Know You’re Really _____ When, and of course, America’s most popular cover boy, Alfred E. Newman.
Mad is still around, now a quarterly and a shadow of its former self. Also, it now costs $5.99 an issue. I don’t think they have the word “Cheap” under the price as they used to. But then, I’ll never buy another issue, so – What, me worry? Here’s an interview 60 Minutes (Great American Thing No. 129) did with the magazine’s publisher back in the late 80s: