This book is completely fascinating... An overview of the history of Mad Magazine, Alfred E Neuman and the Usual Gang of Idiots (the Mad writers and artists)has been researched, written and illustrated with such care and attention to detail it has to have been a labour of love for writer Maria Reidelbach.
Ms Reidelbach takes us through the origins of Mad which I had been unaware of previous to reading this book. Mad sprung from the backlash on comics in the 1950s particularly the legendary EC horror greats such as Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. In fact it was EC who published Mad as a comic and then got round the stifling censorship prevalent at that time by metamorphosing into a magazine.
The story becomes a social history showing how Mad reflected the beginnings of consumerism in America along with the arrival of the Ad Men of Madison Avenue. They of course, became one of Mad's main targets with their unconventional and unrelenting satire. Reidelbach calls the Mad creators The Mad Men and having just seen Season 4 of the series about another group with the same name, there was a connection for me between the two that brought the story alive for me. I felt while reading, that I was in the world of Don Draper and co as much as that of Bill Gaines, Don Martin, Antonio Prohias, Mort Drucker, Al Jaffee, Dave Berg and all my other favourites.
If you are a fan of Mad (UK, US or wherever editions) buy this book. Relish the in-depth biographies of the team. Marvel at the complex and as yet unresolved origins of the What-Me-Worry kid, Alfred E Neuman. Steep yourself in the endless social commentary. Revel in how a humour magazine extended artistic expression and freedom of speech in the USA. Finally, enjoy the beautifully illustrated design of the book, complete with consecutive thumbnails of every US Mad cover up until publication in 1991. This book is available at very reasonable second hand prices... you will not be disappointed.