Thursday, May 1, 2014

In Memorium: Al Feldstein

Industry legend Al Feldstein passed away on April 29, 2014 at the age of 88. As a writer, editor, and artist, he best known for his classic work at EC Comics on their New Trend group including Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Shock SuspenStories, Crime SuspenStories, Panic and Piracy; and later [1956 to 1985], as the editor of the satirical magazine Mad. After retiring, Feldstein concentrated on American paintings of Western wildlife.  

After industry and government pressures had forced Bill Gaines to shut down most of his EC titles, Feldstein was only briefly separated from the company. When Harvey Kurtzman left Mad in 1956, Gaines turned to his former editor Feldstein, who spent the next 29 years at the helm of what became one of the nation's leading and most influential magazines. Circulation multiplied more than eight times during his tenure, peaking at 2,850,000 in 1974, although Mad declined to three quarters of that figure by the end of his time as editor.

Many new cartoonists and writers surfaced during Feldstein's editorship as the magazine came to rely on a steady group of contributors. Feldstein's first issue as editor (#29) was also the first issue to display the twisted work of cartoonist Don Martin. A few months later, he hired Mort Drucker, who quickly established himself as their premier caricaturist on movie satires with Angelo Torres drawing the TV parodies. By 1961, with the introduction of Antonio Proh√≠as and Dave Berg, he had fully established the format that kept the magazine a commercial success for decades.

The Catacombs extends its condolences to his family, friends and fans. I count myself lucky to have had a chance to meet him just a few years ago.


Mykal Banta said...

He was such a nice man. Dealt with him once buying a piece of art from him. We chatted a bit back and forth. Such a thoughtful man. RIP.

Eddie said...

I met Al one time at the Atlanta Dragoncon and found he was a very likable guy. Up until I met him I resented him for taking over MAD from Harvey Kurtzman and dismantling the "Humor in a Jugular" vein style of humor and rooting Harvey out of a job. Since then I found out he became MADs editor by a vacuum HK left when he had some impossible demands.