10 Things You Never Knew about MAD Magazine

MAD magazine is one of those magazines that when you hear the name, you know the content. With the adorable face of Alfred E. Neuman, you immediately knew that you were getting the real thing. Yet as always, there is a story behind the story. So here are 10 quick things you never knew about the infamous MAD magazine.

1. The magazine partnered Neuman with Moxie Cowznofski

For a few short issues, Moxie was Neuman’s romantic interest, or at least a female companion for Al. But apparently it didn’t seem right that there were two MAD people in the world who could understand each other.

2. The magazine is for print only.

In a digital and multimedia world, you would think that crossing over from one media type to another – say magazine to movie – would be easy. But unlike our superheroes, MAD magazine has never successfully made the transition. We blame Neuman.

3. Public apologies are nothing new for the publication.

Twice, once in 1974 and the other in 1952, the publishers had to make a public apology for its content. Of course, in today’s culture they really don’t have anything to worry about anymore, right?

4. A Cuban created the Spy vs. Spy cartoons.

In fact, Antonio Prohias, was long suspected of being a spy for the American government in his home country of Cuba. The problem was he was really only a cartoonist with a great imagination. He would come to the United States as an immigrant and took his cartoon to MAD magazine where it became a regular feature.

5. Fred Astaire once danced as Alfred E. Neuman.

We are talking full blown artistic makeup here. The reasons Astaire would do such a thing remains unknown, but the fact of the matter is he did – in the television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. Further proof that MAD magazine is contagious even to the most sophisticated of us.

6. There was a MAD magazine board game.

Staying true to its counterculture roots, the company created an anti-Monopoly game, where the goal was to lose all of your money. Rumor has it that that is where the idea of the state lottery came to be.

7. The actual creator of Alfred E. Neuman is unknown.

Think of it as a group effort. If you were around in the early part of the last century (few are around these days) the picture of Neuman was everywhere. No one had a copyright on it, so MAD magazine picked it up and made it their own. Today when you see the image the only thing you think about is MAD magazine.

8. An issue that featured a 2013 mass shooting was destroyed.

MAD magazine artist Al Jaffe has been responsible for the artwork for the magazine’s in-fold cover at the end of each issue. Unfortunately for Jaffe, he went too far and the company threw out more than 600,000 copies of the issue.

9. The magazine was ad free for nearly 50 years.

It might be hard to believe in this ad mad world, but it took MAD magazine until 2001 before having any product ad in their magazine. That gave it a lot of liberty to criticize and mock whoever they wanted without fear of boycotting.

10. It designed a win-win magazine cover.

How can a magazine cover be a win-win? By predicting a presidential election. In 1960, MAD ran a cover that showed Neuman congratulating John F. Kennedy for becoming president of the United States long before all the votes were counted (there were no computers doing the counting back then). On the other side of the cover was the same picture except with Neuman congratulating Nixon. Whoever won, MAD was prepared.


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