Completely Mad: A History of the Comic Book and Magazine

Maria Reidelbach, Author Little Brown and Company $50 (208p) ISBN 978-0-316-73890-3
Publisher Bill Gaines and editor Harvey Kurtzman produced the first issue of Mad magazine in 1956 and American satirical humor has never been the same since. Beginning with the comic book company founded by his father, Max, Gaines transformed his father's wholesome comics lines into EC Comics, the profitable publisher of classic 1950s' horror comics, and later introduced Mad and its mascot, the ``What Me Worry'' kid, Alfred E. Neuman. Although basically celebratory and uncritical, art historian Reidelbach's detailed history of Mad mentions recent criticisms of sexist and homophobic material in the magazine as well as Mad 's (and the comics industry's) contested policies on the ownership of commissioned artwork. Most amusing are descriptions of Gaines--who continues to run the profitable magazine as a ``benevolent dictatorship''--and his idiosyncratic management theories ( Mad accepts no advertising, has never conducted a reader survey and does little merchandising). The book is chock-full of Mad material--the usual ``trash,'' as Mad always describes its own contents--as well as information on the many freelance artists and writers who have worked for the magazine. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 978-0-316-73891-0
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-1-56731-127-3
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