Al Feldstein, 1925 – 2014
Comics legend Al Feldstein died yesterday at his Montana home, at the age of 88.
Best known for his work as editor of Mad Magazine from 1956 to 1984, Al co-created, wrote and drew for most of the classic EC comics, including Tales From The Crypt, Weird Science, Panic and Shock SuspenStories. Prior to signing on with EC, Feldstein was a prolific comics artist with work appearing in comics published by Fiction House, Fox, and ACG, among many others.
Taking Mad over from co-creator Harvey Kurtzman, Al introduced many of the magazine’s most popular features, including Don Martin’s irrepressible pages, Antonio Prohias’ Spy Vs. Spy, Dave Berg’s Lighter Side, and Al Jaffee’s fold-ins. He also increased the visibility of company mascot Alfred E. Neuman.
A man of strong progressive political beliefs, he was the subject of an FBI investigation following his publication of satirical criticism of notorious FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. According to USA Today, two FBI agents demanded an apology for “sullying” Hoover’s reputation by using his name in Mad. No such apology was issued by Feldstein.
Over the years, Feldstein’s work at EC Comics inspired quite a number of movies, television shows, cartoons and Broadway musicals. The level of outrageousness set by the editor and his staff inspired later satirists such as Mike Judge, Matt Groening, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Al devoted his retirement years to western painting, as well as the occasional “flashback” painting of the EC horror hosts, 1950s science-fiction themes and his late EC/Mad boss, Bill Gaines. He also appeared at numerous comics conventions where he signed autographs and sold prints of his painted work.
Last August, IDW published Grant Geissman’s definitive autobiography of the cartoonist, Feldstein: The Mad Life and Fantastic Art of Al Feldstein!
That final exclamation point in the title tells it all.