Growing up, Dad and I shared very similar tastes in comedy and sense of humor. It should be no surprise, then, when he was almost as excited as I was when I first discovered MAD Magazine and purchased my first 3 year subscription. Both of us loved reading them, and we both appreciated the artwork of the many legendary artists that illustrated for MAD.
I can't tell you how many times over the years Dad made some out of the blue reference to Alfred E. Neuman. Either it would be someone who he thought looked like him, or a character that Dad painted into his own illustrations that was inspired by him, or he would make a comment about his own posture towards some situation and say, "What, Me Worry?"
Needless to say, Dad did a lot of high profile jobs during his career, but this was sort of a personal "guilty pleasure" accomplishment for him to be able to do the cover for a magazine that he read as a kid, and one that we enjoyed together.
About This Cover...
Only a few MAD covers didn't feature the goofy face of Alfred E. Neuman. Incidentally, one of those covers was #161 from 1973, which spoofed the movie "Poseiden," and that magazine became MAD's highest sold magazine. Dad's cover, spoofing the 1997
MAD Magazine #369
Oil on board, 24x18
film "Titanic," was a spoof of that spoof. This detail is even mentioned on the Wikipedia page for Alfred E. Neuman. When one lifelong reader "caught" MAD "copying" itself, and MAD replied by saying, "thank you for bringing this to our attention. We plan on suing ourselves immediately." Dad's original art remains in the personal collection of Anne Gaines, the widow of MAD's founder, Bill Gaines.
Funny Side Note...
When I was in high school, MAD had a spoof ad that advertised "Dream Vacation Getaways" in a fictitious publication called "CyberNerd Magazine." In it, they mentioned North Sioux City, South Dakota, the home of Gateway 2000 computers. North Sioux happened to be the small town where we lived at the time, and my brother even worked at Gateway 2000. Their article, of course, was poking fun at computer geeks, as one could imagine that North Sioux City would be far from a paradise getaway. The article they wrote was funny, however if they knew the real facts behind Gateway 2000 in North Sioux City, they could have really capitalized on it, because sometimes, truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
I wrote to MAD and explained to them that the actual Gateway 2000 building was painted in massive cow spots, and all their products were shipped in cow printed boxes. This would have led to a lot of clout in their pursuit of making North Sioux City look like a small little farm town, and I felt they should know this.
But what makes this letter I wrote significant, is that MAD had a feature every month in their "Fan Mail" section (called "Letters and Tomatoes") near the front of each issue. The feature was called "Envelope of the Month," and for this feature they chose an artistically designed envelope that a fan would send into them, and they would pick their favorite and publish it.
They selected my envelope and published it as the "Envelope of the Month," and so I had always jokingly bragged to Dad that I got published in MAD Magazine a whole year before he did.
I remember Dad really loved the envelope and he loved even more that it got published as the Envelope of the Month.