Announcing the next broadcast of the music-and-cultural-arts radio program “The Freak Power Ticket!” (Monday, May 12th).

Producer/host Ted Coe writes: “The legendary satirical publication MAD debuted at EC (aka ‘Entertaining Comics’) in 1952.

Public Domain Image from Wikipedia.

An early-20th Century postcard with the public domain “me worry?” face that later inspired MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman.

With EC’s iconoclastic titles, publisher William Gaines and cartoonists/editors Harvey Kurtzman and Al Feldstein pushed up against the limits of ‘good taste’ and the prevailing stereotype of comics as ‘juvenile literature,’ by creating popular anthology series in several ‘lower’ genres: horror, suspense, romance, comedy, war, crime, and science-fiction.

EC Comics fell victim to a Cold War-era censorship campaign, but their best-selling title MAD skirted the new and repressive ‘Comics Code Authority’ by converting to a magazine format in 1955. By the 1960s, MAD Magazine had become a defining force in American humor, reaching its peak circulation of 2 million readers in the late 1970s.

On Monday’s edition of ‘The Freak Power Ticket,’ we’ll pay tribute to MAD‘s late editor Al Feldstein (who died last month at the age of 88) and explore the magazine’s cultural influence. It’ll be hard not to think of AMC’s ‘MAD Men’ (and Women) as we shine a light on the publication that helped to shatter the prevailing myths of Mid-Century Mass Culture (and of so-called ‘Middle American values’).

Its impact is manifest in many ways and in practically every arena: such as the recording industry, advertising, graphic arts, theater, radio, publishing, television, video games, cinema, and journalism. Even law and American politics.

  • novelty records featuring the voice and sound-stylings of none-other than MAD‘s iconic mascot Alfred E.Neuman;
  • spin-off musicals, tie-in LPs, and promotional flexi-discs — including a song by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim — plus MAD‘s take on the Disco Era;
  • comedy routines from humorists who influenced and contributed to MAD, such as Bob & Ray (aka Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding), Ernie Kovacs, and Stan Freberg;
  • music from albums and films connected to MAD Magazine‘s ‘Usual Gang of Idiots,’ including the work of Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, The Shirelles, Ethel Ennis, BananasAmerican Graffiti, and more;
  • tribute songs from Combustible Edison and Paul Roland;
  • and other crazy tales (including a first-person account of life at MAD by indie-publishing hero Paul Krassner).

Straight from America’s #1 comedy magazine!”

“The Freak Power Ticket” airs on Mondays in the Spring.