Crossing MAD Avenue
MAD magazine was founded in 1952 by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines, first launched as a comic book and then after the Comics Authority Code as a magazine. In its take-downs of popular culture in serves as an alternative topology of the cultural landscape of the 20th century. At its peak it had a circulation of two million. Advertising (Mad Ave) was one of its favorite bêtes noires. How commodities and luxuries were consumed in the American postwar era kept its pages stuffed with parody advertisements and satiric jabs at other manipulative media.
In 1972, Dick De Bartolo and Bob Clarke produced MADvertising, a comic—asinine—approach to American advertising propaganda. They were not biting the hand that fed them because in the early days, unlike today, MAD did not accept advertising. Those who practice the selling arts may find it puerile but, for that matter, so is the majority of advertising, with that respite called the Creative Revolution as an island in the midst of rough seas.
About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.