Al Feldstein, former editor of pop culture satire publication Mad magazine for 28 years, died at his home in Livingston, Mont., on April 29. No cause of death was released. He was 88.
Publisher William Gaines put Feldstein in charge of the magazine in 1956, which was known for its parodies of politicians and mockery of traditional morality. Feldstein is probably best known for Mad’s poster character, freckle-faced redhead Alfred E. Neuman, who was based on founding editor Harvey Kurtzman. Those familiar associate the phrase, “What, Me Worry?” with the dim-witted gap-toothed hero. Neuman was known to make fun of everyone from Darth Vader to Santa Claus, and has recently appeared in editorial cartoonists’ George W. Bush parodies.
Mad’s sales topped 2 million in the early 1970s when Gaines and Feldstein were in charge, and Feldstein later credited the magazine’s style of calling public figures out as having helped start the cultural revolution in the 1960s.
When Feldstein retired in 1984, Mad’s circulation was already in a steep decline. Feldstein moved out West, eventually settling in Montana, where he focused on painting wildlife and nature scenes, and competing in local art contests.
Born in 1925 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Feldstein attended Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art and Brooklyn College, and later served in the military at the end of World War II. After he was discharged, he ended up performing at Entertainment Comics.