Saturday, May 10, 2014


The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum had an exhibit of MAD Magazine art in 2005.  As part of the exhibit, they brought in longtime MAD editor Al Feldstein to give a speech at the opening.  My wife and I attended both, and it was my first encounter with this energetic force of a man.  He talked about his life and career at MAD, giving the inside dirt on the departure of MAD's founding editor Harvey Kurtzman.  Kurtzman, who founded MAD as a comic book, still garnered most of the critical kudos, even though he left after four years.  This still nagged at Feldstein, who went on to lead MAD for nearly three decades, presiding over its greatest popularity and its synonymy with subversive satire.

I got to meet and talk with Feldstein after the talk and at the opening.  I brought my copy of 'Foul Play' for him to sign.  'Foul Play' is Grant Geissman's history of EC Comics, of which Feldstein was an editor, writer and artist.  The book had just come out at the time of our meeting, and Feldstein hadn't received his copy yet.  Feldstein eagerly thumbed through my copy, enjoying the fresh take on work he had done fifty years previous.  It was gratifying to share the experience with him.

I next met Feldstein at a comic convention, probably a Mid-Ohio, either later that year or in '06.  He gave another talk, this time paired with a slideshow of his art work.  He not only included his recent landscape and wildlife art, but that he was giving it equal weight.  He clearly wanted to show he was retired but not dead, that his creative life didn't end when his comics' work did. I saw him again at a later convention, vibrant as ever and happy to greet fans and talk on any subject.  We talked briefly, but that was the last time I saw him.  He did send me an invitation two years ago to connect with him on LinkedIn.  I accepted.

Feldstein died on April 29th at his home in Paradise Valley, Montana.  He leaves behind as a legacy his hand in EC, perhaps the most revered line of comics ever created, and the fond MAD memories of the 12-year old boy in all of us.


To learn more about Al Feldstein, the Library of Matt suggests these books:

FELDSTEIN: The Mad Life and Fantastic Life of Al Feldstein! by Grant Geissman (2013, IDW)

Child of Tomorrow and other stories by Al Feldstein (the EC Comics Library) (2013, Fantagraphics)

These and many other interesting books are available at your local library and comic book store.  Visit them.  They'll be happy to help you read more about it.

Photo Credits:
2005 photo of Al Feldstein from the GLyph, the website of the Great Lakes chapter of the National Cartoonists Society
Al Feldstein's Owl painting, the Angelo Torres drawing of Al behind his MAD editor desk, and Feldstein's panel of he and Bill Gaines are all from FELDSTEIN: The Mad Life and Fantastic Art of Al Feldstein! by Grant Geissman.

1 comment:

Jerry Smith said...

A fantastic talent. I'm sorry I never met him. Glad you got the chance!