Arams, Nathan: "From Madness to Dysentery. Mad’s Other New York Intellectuals." In: Journal of American Studies 37.3 (2003), S. 435–451.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Arams2003
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Keywords: "Mad Magazine", Counter culture, Satire, USA
Collection: Journal of American Studies
One of the most curiously overlooked publishing phenomena of the 1950s was the appearance of the comic book Mad in October 1952 which “burst forth full blown from nowhere on an unsuspecting comic book reading public” into the midst of the domestic Cold War. In 1959 Newsweek observed that “Mad each month sticks a sharp-pronged fork into some part of the social anatomy” while Gloria Steinem recalled: “There was a spirit of satire and irreverence in Mad that was very important, and it was the only place you could find it in the '50s.” And even Marshall McLuhan considered Mad worthy of mention in his influential study, Understanding Media. Noting its “sudden eminence,” he attributed this to its “ludicrous and cool replay of the forms of the hot media of photo, radio, and film.” Surprisingly, very little attention has been paid towards Mad beyond its own retrospective publications, one book, and several short articles. This is unfortunate since the comic provides a sharply satiric, yet extremely perceptive insight into many aspects of Cold War America during the 1950s. Furthermore, as I shall argue, those who wrote and drew for Mad formed an alternative New York intellectual circle to that which is commonly written about. Mad's critique of America was far more effective and devastating than their better-known counterparts and consequently, Mad deserves credit as one of the sources of the counterculture of the 1960s.
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