October 3: Harvey Kurtzman

artofkurtzmanThere are three artists who are most associated with shaping the look of the Golden Age of Comic Books: Will Eisner, Jack Kirby and Harvey Kurtzman, the last of whom was born on this day in 1924.

Kurtzman helped pioneer war comics like Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, but Kurtzman’s most lasting contribution was something far sillier than war, Mad Magazine, which he helped found in 1952.

Mad got its start as a very goofy humor comic edited and almost entirely written by Kurtzman, with art by Kurtzman and some of his comic book pals. This version of Mad lasted for 23 issues and with issue 24, Mad was transformed into a (still very silly) magazine featuring a mix of cartoons and articles spoofing everything under the sun. Kurtzman would stay on for one more year as editor, before leaving to create a rival humor magazine.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with Mad Magazine probably knows the magazine’s infamous mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, a dopey looking fellow with messy reddish hair, jug ears and gap teeth. Neuman first appeared in a fake ad page in a 1955 issue of the magazine, as part of an ad for a rubber “idiot” mask. Since then, Neuman has appeared in nearly every issue of Mad, primarily on the cover. Interestingly, images of Neuman-esque boys have appeared in commercial illustrations since at least the 1890s.

Alfred E. Neuman’s famous catchphrase is “What? Me worry?,” so it’s only fitting that we honor Kurtzman, Mad and Alfred E. Neuman with a No Worries. It’s a goofy little mixture of brandy and Dr. Pepper, which is oddly appropriate for Mad Magazine.

No Worries

  • 2 ounces Brandy
  • 4 ounces Dr. Pepper

Pour the brandy into a highball glass with ice and top with Dr. Pepper.

Tomorrow: One of New York’s great clubs closes.

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