Al Feldstein, the former long-time editor of Mad Magazine who turned Alfred E. Neuman into an American icon, died in Montana on Tuesday at the age of 88.
Neuman, a freckle-faced nerd without a front tooth, was Feldstein’s vehicle to pan everyone, without regard to race, creed, religion or social status.
After George Bush was elected in 2000, The Nation , a political magazine that describes itself as “the flagship of the left”, used Neuman’s caricature with a one-word message: “Worry.”
Mad was so successful that its sales of more than 2,000,000 copies in the 1970s allowed it to profit without advertisements. The magazine was beholden to no one except its readers, who loved the parodies that broke through myths and holy cows of America’s lifestyle.
“We even used to rake the hippies over the coals,” Feldstein once said. “They were protesting the Vietnam War, but we took aspects of their culture and had fun with it. Mad was wide open. Bill loved it, and he was a capitalist Republican. I loved it, and I was a liberal Democrat.”
After Feldman retired in 1984, its sales declined, but the magazine still is published.
He had moved from New York, where Mad was headquartered, to Wyoming and later Montana, where he ran a guest house and painted.