The Creator of Mad Magazine

 Harvey Kurtzman , the creator of Mad magazine, was born in Brooklyn on October 3, 1924. As a youngster Kurtzman began drawing comics.  He even sent some “very bad” drawings to Walt Disney.  It wasn’t until he saw college humor magazines that he realized that was the style that best suited his talents.

Kurtzman started Mad in 1952. It actually began as a comic book, then switched to a magazine format in 1955.  Some think the change was made to avoid the self-censorship of the Comics Code Authority, also know as the Comics Code (for information on the Code, visit ). The magazine satirized just about everything — other comics, politics, and culture in general.  Art Spiegelman, the writer of the graphic novel Maus, said, “The message Mad had in general is, ‘The media is lying to you, and we are part of the media.’ It was basically … ‘Think for yourselves, kids.’”

The magazine’s mascot, the gap-toothed Alfred E. Newman with the caption “What — me worry?”, was inspired by an early-20th-century dentist’s ad for novocaine.

Kurtzman left Mad in 1956.  He founded the magazines Trump and Humbug, but both failed.  Probably his most noteworthy post-Mad accomplishment was the comics he drew during World War II, which showed war in a more realistic setting with a more sympathetic depiction of enemy soldiers.

For more on Harvey Kurtzman, visit  The photo is Kurtzman’s cover for Mad #1 (Oct–Nov 1952), as shown by Wikipedia.


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