When I was a kid growing up in Chicago in the 1960's, my next door neighbor, George Perhatch, was an avid collector of MAD magazine. We were good friends (we were both around 6 or 7 years old) but I did not share his interest in MAD, at first. MAD used to scare me. I was still at an age where I took everything seriously, or at face value. I used to tell Georgie that everyone in MAD seemed to be mean to each other. In one of Georgie's paperback book collections of MAD, I remember a panel where a little girl had a little boy tied up and gagged. To me it was horrifying. She had him laying on his back, and was pressing his head down, so it would get hit by a toy train as it went around the track. I knew it was a gag, but I took the situation seriously. I knew it would still hurt. How could that little girl do that? It was inhuman!
MAD magazine gave me a headache. It actually made me queasy. And Alfred E. Neuman's smiling face on the cover- It really bothered me that he seemed happy, indifferent to the cruelty I saw inside the pages. I just couldn't understand.
I even developed a fear of MAD. It was like a fear of the unknown. Mad seemed to endorse cruelty. It got to the point of where I couldn't even look at them because it stimulated either fear or disgust. Georgie picked up on this. One time we were "camping" in his back yard, in a small tent. When I was inside the tent, Georgie went inside the house and came back with an armload of MAD magazines, and unzipped the entrance and threw them all inside. I couldn't get out! I backed up in fear all the way to the back of the tent and couldn't get out! The memory is burned in my head.
To make matters worse, George kept pointing out that I kinda LOOKED like Alfred E. Neuman, and it bothered me to no end. His mother, not knowing of my neurosis, agreed!
I'm totally intrigued by those old publications now, but it took a long time for me to come to terms with the twisted ideas of MAD magazine.
It's strange to me, that today I am a cartoonist who specializes in MAD-like artwork.
-- Pat Moriarity
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