In 1956, Mad was the hottest thing since sunburn. It was selling out every issue, featured the best artistic talent in the industry and buoyed Bill Gaines’ EC comic book empire, unintentionally spawning several wannabe parodic rags in the process.

Editor Harvey Kurtzman wanted to upgrade Mad into a glossy magazine, paying big bucks to lure top writing talent. Gaines said no. Young Hugh Hefner liked the idea. Harvey and others made the leap to Hefner’s new, glossy Trump. It folded after two issues.

Then, after knocking back several alleged shots of Old Rotgut, Kurtzman, Will Elder, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth and Jack Davis decided to start their own humor (also pronounced “YOO-mur” here in NYC) mag called Humbug. It was a site to behold. It blew many a young mind (see: “Crumb, Robert”). It folded after 11 issues, never to be reprinted. Until now.

Big Box o' Fun

Big Box o' Fun

It’s American popular history, kids. Dig in.



Filed under Artists, cartoon art, parody

2 responses to “Humbug!

  1. Rob Das

    I don’t remember a thing about Humbug. I’ll definitely be looking for the reprint now. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m so glad Mad didn’t go glossy. Do you have any old copies lying around???

  2. jtebeau

    Hi Rob–

    Right, it was so before our time and disappeared so quickly. I still have a few Mad books but sold all the magazines (along with many treasured possessions) when we moved from Ann Arbor to NYC. I’ll always be grateful to Leena or Sheela for having the Ballantine paperbacks of Mad comic reprints of the 1950s. Those were a revelation, and just so excellent. Insanely good.

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