Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Al Feldstein, who headed Mad magazine, dies at 88

Al Feldstein, who headed Mad magazine, dies at 88

These EC/Mad guys did almost as much to shape my worldview as my parents did.  I have to admit I don't know a whole lot about them because I'm not a big biography person.  The work and the sensibilities inherent in it, those are the things I pick up on.  The EC horror, science fiction and humor books certainly had a sensibility.  They weren't just toss-away stories.  They had a tongue-in-cheek quality, an overall identity and when you read them, you feel simpatico with the creators in a way you get from more personal works rather than the big corporate stuff.

Well, I do, anyway.  I've always felt a meshing of mindsets with the EC crowd, something akin to friendship with their work.  Al Feldstein's slickly-lined, somewhat stiff and sometimes even lurid covers were my gateway to a world I understood at once. How could I resist such cleanly-rendered horrors?  And Feldstein didn't just draw those covers.  He edited the books and wrote stories in them, too.  Then he went on to take over Mad after Harvey Kurtzman left and run that book for about a million successful years.

I mean, holy cats, Mad magazine!  Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Angelo Torres, Don Martin!

Anyway, what I don't know about Al Feldstein would fill several libraries of books.  I wish I'd been more knowledgeable when I spoke to Jack Davis (the only EC/Mad creator I've ever had any kind of contact with, and it's a memory I'll treasure from a pretty bad year) so I could have asked about Feldstein.  But he's encoded in my DNA now.

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