Mad Magazine Poster # 6 Alfred E. Neuman Maze by David Anson Russo


SKU: 14174 Category:


Mad Magazine Poster # 6 Alfred E. Neuman Maze by David Anson Russo

Alfred E. Neuman is the mascot and cover boy of the American humor magazine Mad. The character’s distinct smiling face, parted red hair, gap-tooth smile, freckles, protruding nose, and scrawny body, actually first emerged in U.S. iconography decades prior to his association with the magazine, appearing in late nineteenth-century advertisements for painless dentistry—the origin of his “What, me worry?” motto. However, he actually first appeared in advertisements for an 1894 play, called “The New Boy”, which portrayed a variation of him with the quote, “What’s the good of anything?—Nothing!”. He also appeared in the early 1930s, on a presidential campaign postcard with the caption “Sure I’m for Roosevelt”. The magazine’s editor Harvey Kurtzman claimed the character in 1954, and he was named “Alfred E. Neuman” by Mad’s second editor, Al Feldstein, in 1956. Since his debut in Mad, Neuman’s likeness has appeared on the cover of all but a handful of the magazine’s over 550 issues. Rarely seen in profile, Neuman has almost always been recognizable in front view, silhouette, or directly from behind.

When Al Feldstein took over as Mad’s editor in 1956, he seized upon the face:

“I decided that I wanted to have this visual logo as the image of Mad, the same way that corporations had the Jolly Green Giant and the dog barking sic at the gramophone for RCA. This kid was the perfect example of what I wanted. So I put an ad in The New York Times that said, “National magazine wants portrait artist for special project”. In walked this little old guy in his sixties named Norman Mingo, and he said, “What national magazine is this?” I said “Mad,” and he said, “Goodbye.” I told him to wait, and I dragged out all these examples and postcards of this idiot kid, and I said, “I want a definitive portrait of this kid. I don’t want him to look like an idiot – I want him to be loveable and have an intelligence behind his eyes. But I want him to have this devil-may-care attitude, someone who can maintain a sense of humor while the world is collapsing around him.” I adapted and used that portrait, and that was the beginning.”

Mingo’s defining portrait was used on the cover of Mad #30 in late 1956 as a supposed write-in candidate for the Presidency, and fixed his identity and appearance into the version that has been used ever since. In November 2008, Mingo’s original cover art featuring this first official portrait of Neuman sold at auction for $203,150. Mingo painted seven more Neuman covers through 1957, and later returned to become the magazine’s signature cover artist throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Mingo produced 97 Mad covers in total, and also illustrated dozens of additional cover images for Mad’s many reprint Specials and its line of paperbacks.

Neuman’s famous motto is the intellectually incurious “What, me worry?” This was changed for one issue to “Yes, me worry!” after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. On the cover of current printings of the paperback The Ides of Mad, as rendered by long-time cover artist Norman Mingo, Neuman is portrayed as a Roman bust with his catch phrase engraved on the base, translated into Dog Latin – Quid, Me Anxius Sum?

A live-action version of Neuman – an uncredited actor wearing a mask – appears briefly in the 1980 film Up the Academy which was originally released to theaters as Mad Magazine Presents Up the Academy. Mad later pulled its support from the film, and all footage of the Neuman character was excised from North American home video and television releases, although it was reinstated for the 2006 DVD release.

Neuman appeared occasionally in the early seasons of MADtv during sketches and interstitials, and briefly appeared in the animated TV series Mad.

In 2021, the documentary Making Mad: The Alfred E.Neuman Story was released. Making MAD is diving deep into the history of the infamous character of Alfred E. Neuman, Mad magazine’s red haired cover boy for over sixty years, whose iconic features and mischievous grin has captivated readers of all ages.

DAVID ANSON RUSSO is recognized as one of the world’s premier creative artists. An innovator for over 30 years, his newest artistic brand “What A Great Life” is now captivating audiences everywhere.

Russo captured the professional creative community’s attention in the 1990s with his dramatic maze designs, resulting in 30 licensing deals, an 11 book contract with Simon & Schuster and a QVC appearance. His “Absolute Amazement” ad was one of the most popular in the Absolut Vodka series and Mad Magazine commissioned him to create a portrait of Alfred E. Newman.

Television was a natural segue for Russo, who has helped create a myriad of new television properties. These include Combat Missions (2002, Mark Burnett Productions), Magic Johnson’s Whose Got Game (MTV) and Paula Abdul’s Hey Paula (BRAVO).

Near mint condition. Ships folded.