Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Tail of Alfred E. Neuman

Alfred E. Neuman, the Boy with No Birthday Turns Sixty

There is no image more evocative of MAD magazine than the grinning, gap-toothed, freckled face of its mascot, Alfred E. Neuman. Ever since the big-eared redhead first graced the satirical Mad magazine’s cover in December 1956, Alfred E. Neuman has become synonymous with MAD, appearing on almost every cover since. But while MAD might have made the fictional character an icon, his origins remained murky for many years

 Alfred E. Neuman has appeared in more than 1550 issues

The long and tangled history of Alfred E. Neuman.
MAD #21: Cover by Harvey Kurtzman (1955)

First cover appearance (issue 21, March 1955) of Alfred E. Neuman in a fake advertisement satirizing the popular mail-order house Johnson Smith Company

The Alfred E. Neuman face was created by Norman Mingo. Curiously, none of MAD’s artists, though extremely versatile, has been able to render accurately the Mingo prototype. When Mingo died in 1980, his obituary in The New York Times identified him in its headline as the “Illustrator Behind ‘Alfred E. Neuman’ Face.” 

 A Great Alfred E. Neuman Story

Star Trek Meets Mad Magazine

Here’s a cover where NORAD’s annual tradition of tracking Santa Claus’s journey from the North Pole results in the end of the world via nuclear holocaust. 

Back in 1955, NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) was based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At Christmas time of that year, a Sears department store advertisement placed in a Colorado Springs newspaper featured a picture of Santa urging children to "Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally any time day or night." Unfortunately, the phone number included in the ad was either misprinted or misdialed, and a child who called ended up not on the phone with St. Nick but rather with one Colonel Harry Shoup, the officer on duty that day at CONAD. Rather than informing his juvenile caller they had reached a wrong number and brusquely instructing them to get off the line, Col. Shoup opted to play along and asked his staff to accommodate the inquisitive youngster by providing them with updates on Santa's Christmas Eve progress.

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