1. Started by Harvey Kurtzman (editor and contributor) and William Gaines (publisher), MAD Magazine has been corrupting the minds of America’s youth since 1952. (And as contributor Al Jaffee said in 2010, “from what I’m gathering from the minds of people all over, we succeeded” in that corrupting goal.)
2. Originally published in a familiar comic book format, MAD switched to its more familiar magazine-size format with issue #24, in 1955. This had the benefit of removing MAD from the censorship of the Comics Code Authority. (Not even Superduperman could have successfully fought the CCA.)
3. MAD was involved in a landmark court case when a group of music publishers sued them over the magazine’s trademark song parodies. Happily for parodists everywhere, MAD won the case.
4. Between the April 1957 (#33) and February 2001 (#402) issues, MAD accepted no advertising – although they certainly ran their fair share of fake ads (including, in #34, a parody of the Famous Artists School ad which had been the last legitimate ad to run, in issue #32.)
5. MAD’s mascot is Alfred E. Neuman, who graced the cover of the book The MAD Reader (1954) before landing on the cover of MAD#21. Neuman, was named by Kurtzman, but Kurtzman did not create him; the image had been floating around in various forms since at least 1876. (“What! Me worry about spending decades without a name?”)
6. Neuman has appeared outside of MAD Magazine numerous times, making one especially notable guest appearance as the rising sun in one episode of the Peanuts comic strip, as well as appearances/mentions on The Simpsons, in Beetle Bailey and Superman and even in mask-form on the face of dancing Fred Astaire during a 1958 TV special.
7. An off-Broadway musical revue called The MAD Show and based on the magazine (in spirit more than in content) opened in 1966 and ran for 871 performances. Linda Lavin, Paul Sand and Jo Anne Worley were part of the original cast. (Somehow it did not start a new trend of off-Broadway musicals based on magazines.)
8. MAD’s peak circulation occurred in 1974: 2,132,655. (Strange that the peak was in the 1970s, when so much of society was a parody of itself that one would think a parody magazine would have been redundant.)
9. Dick DeBartolo holds the record for writing the most film spoofs for MAD with 145; Mort Drucker has illustrated the most film spoofs, a jaw-dropping 238. MAD’s first film spoof was Ping Pong (aka King Kong) in issue #6.
10. In 1977, the New York Times wrote of MAD’s early years that it provided “ magical, objective proof to kids that they weren’t alone, that in New York City on Lafayette Street, if nowhere else, there were people who knew that there was something wrong, phony and funny about a world of bomb shelters, brinkmanship and toothpaste smiles.” Hear, hear!