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01 October 2016 @ 07:04 pm
MAD magazine and the Gay Philosopher...  
Back in August I bought the book MAD About the Fifties. I was on my way to my Monday evening dinner group. One of my fellow dinners who grew up in the 1950s opined that MAD's mascot the famous Alfred E. Neuman was inspired by the Gay Philosopher a piece of art depicting a smiling curious man and sometimes accompanied by the phrase "Why Worry", which parallels Neuman's motto of "What - Me Worry?" I also think their respective smiles likewise suggest a similar devil may care abandon. Later I looked to find a connection. I realized from looking at sources like Wikipedia and also commentary in Mad About the Fifties that Neuman and his tag line was in fact directly copied from earlier advertising copy, images and text that predated the Gay Philosopher. However I did find one art appraiser who thought that the Gay Philosopher might be based on those earlier advertising images. This is pretty thin evidence of any connection at all. However I can believe that both find their popularity in the zeitgeist of the 1940s and 50s America, with the hard times of the depression and the horrors of World War II making such characters appealing.

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: 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.

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Allan Olley4ll4n0 on October 21st, 2016 03:58 pm (UTC)
I found another person who saw a link between the Gay Philosopher and Alfred E. Neuman http://www.kountrylife.com/forum/messages/443429.html