August 1952 - Mad Magazine debuts as a comic book.Published: 2016-06-22 | Original Article
It was widely imitated and influential, affecting satirical media as well as the cultural landscape of the 20th century, with editor Al Feldstein increasing readership to more than two million during its 1974 circulation peak. As of May 2016, Mad has published 539 issues.
The magazine is the last surviving title from the EC Comics line, offering satire on all aspects of life and popular culture, politics, entertainment, and public figures. Its format is divided into a number of recurring segments such as TV and movie parodies, as well as freeform articles. Mad's mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, is typically the focal point of the magazine's cover, with his face often replacing that of a celebrity or character who is lampooned within the issue.
In its earliest incarnation, new issues of the magazine appeared erratically, between four and seven times a year. By the end of 1958, Mad had settled on an unusual eight-times-a-year schedule, which lasted almost four decades. Mad then began producing additional issues, until it reached a traditional monthly schedule with the January 1997 issue. With its 500th issue (June 2009), amid company-wide cutbacks at Time Warner, the magazine temporarily regressed to a quarterly publication before settling to six issues per year in 2010.
Though there are antecedents to Mad's style of humor in print, radio and film, Mad became a pioneering example of it. Throughout the 1950s, Mad featured groundbreaking parodies combining a sentimental fondness for the familiar staples of American culture—such as Archie and Superman—with a keen joy in exposing the fakery behind the image.
In 1977, Tony Hiss and Jeff Lewis wrote in The New York Times about the then 25-year-old publication's initial effect:
The skeptical generation of kids it shaped in the 1950s is the same generation that, in the 1960s, opposed a war and didn't feel bad when the United States lost for the first time and in the 1970s helped turn out an Administration and didn't feel bad about that either... It was magical, objective proof to kids that they weren't alone, that in New York City on Lafayette Street, if nowhere else, there were people who knew that there was something wrong, phony and funny about a world of bomb shelters, brinkmanship and toothpaste smiles. Mad's consciousness of itself, as trash, as comic book, as enemy of parents and teachers, even as money-making enterprise, thrilled kids. In 1955, such consciousness was possibly nowhere else to be found. In a Mad parody, comic-strip characters knew they were stuck in a strip. "Darnold Duck," for example, begins wondering why he has only three fingers and has to wear white gloves all the time. He ends up wanting to murder every other Disney character. G.I. Schmoe tries to win the sexy Asiatic Red Army broad by telling her, "O.K., baby! You're all mine! I gave you a chance to hit me witta gun butt... But naturally, you have immediately fallen in love with me, since I am a big hero of this story."