Former editor of Mad Magazine Al Feldstein died April 29 at his home in Montana. He was 88.
I long ago forgave him for rejecting the parody of Star Trek I drew in the ninth grade with a ballpoint pen on lined notebook paper, and sent with a return envelope too small for the manuscript because it was – of course! – going to sell. The only rule of professional writing I didn’t break at the time was to submit to a publication I hadn’t read. I knew it very well: I loved Mad.
Feldstein was hired by EC (“Educational Comics”) as an artist in 1948. In the mid-1950s he edited EC’s New Trend group, known for such titles as Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, and Tales from the Crypt. The Wertham-inspired crackdown on comics forced EC to kill many of its titles and put Feldstein out of work. However, when Mad’s founding editor Harvey Kurtzman departed in 1956, Feldstein took his place and spent the next three decades satirizing America from Madison Avenue to Hollywood.
Feldstein’s aptitude for art was evident when he won an award in the 1939 New York World’s Fair poster contest. He trained at Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art and Brooklyn College. When he was 15 he went to work in the Eisner & Iger shop, an art service for comic book publishers, making $3 a week inking balloon lines and erasing pages.
His career at Mad ended in 1984 as its fading popularity led to a precipitous drop in circulation.
He moved to Wyoming, and later, Montana. He resumed his early interest in oil painting, depicting wildlife, nature scenes and fantasy art. Several of his works placed in the Top 100 of Arts for the Parks, a competition created in 1986 by the National Park Academy of the Arts.
He was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2003.
In 2011, he received the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Horror Writers Association.
Feldstein’s survivors include his wife, Michelle, stepdaughter Katrina Oppelt, her husband, and two grandsons.