A curious sequel to all this occurred in the past week or so when I found a familiar image near the end of MAD about the Fifties. Nestled in a section written by comedian Ernie Kovacs with art by Wallace Wood called Strangely Believe It (a parody of Ripley`s Believe It or Not) was the Gay Philosopher: I am unclear exactly what issue this image was in but a quick check suggests the Strangely Believe It ran from issue 33-42 or from June of 1957 to November of 1958 and its placement in the collection MAD about the Fifties suggests it was earlier in that run. Anyway this goes perhaps to illustrate the popularity of the image at the time and is an interesting coincidence.
It gets a little deeper as while compiling this blog post I noticed that the Gay Philosopher appeared in MAD magazine again (in a somewhat modified form) in issue 38, which again suggests the popularity of the art work at the time and perhaps its appeal to the usual bunch of idiots at MAD.
I should say that the collection MAD About the Fifities is a nice look back at the early days of Tales Calculated to Drive You MAD (humor in a jugular vein) including some great pieces from the earliest days when it was in comic book format and had such parodies of mainstream comic books as Batboy and Rubin (which was adapted to television in the series Batman the Brave and the Bold) and Starchie.