Mad Mascot Study

Alfred E. Neuman was adopted by Al Feldstein and born in 1956 as drawn by Norman Mingo.  All other images before that date (publication of MAD #30) represent a different character.  I realize that this is a minority opinion within this group.

In 1954 Harvey Kurtzman saw a postcard on the bulletin board in the office of Bernard Shir-Cliff who was working for Ballentine Books.  The postcard stated: "Me Worry?"  Kurtzman decided to use the image as a typical reader of MAD for the cover of THE MAD READER, the first paperback reprint of some MAD comic book articles.  The image was later used on the cover of MAD #21 as one of several "Adult Life-Like Rubber Masks."  The mask was identified as "Idiot" for "$1.29."

Kurtzman brought back the "idiot kid" and "Alfred Neuman" for the first magazine, MAD #24.  The kid and the name were randomly used in MAD #24-29.  Both were generally used as non sequitur jokes.  Kurtzman never intended that the image would have a permanent name.  It is my opinion that Kurtzman would have phased out this joke since he never intended to have a mascot.

According to John Ficarra, the Norman Mingo "Alfred E. Neuman" was based on a local restaurant bread boy first drawn by Jack Davis (cover of MAD #27); and was not based on the 1890s dental patient or the 1840s Irish Frankenstein.

The following study identifies the uses of the image and the name in these six issues

MAD #24

Front Cover - The border includes a new drawing of the postcard kid with "WHAT? ME WORRY?" and a new character named "ALFRED L. NEUMAN" reading MAD.  The border was drawn by Harvey Kurtzman.  The What? Me Worry? kid also appeared on the cover border of MAD #25-30.  Alfred L. Neuman also appeared on the cover border of MAD #25-26.

Page 7 - Postcard kid is identified as "MELVIN COZNOWSKI" as drawn by Wallace Wood.

Pages 32-34 - In "Classy Crimes #138 ..." by Bernard Shir-Cliff, the postcard boy is shown on page 32 ("Face of boy who was heard to remark 'What? Me worry?'").  "Alfred E, Neuman" is shown as a man holding his own head as drawn by Will Elder on page 33.  Another drawing of "Alfred E. Neuman" by Elder is shown in mugshots on page 34.  The text of the three-page story by Shir-Cliff does not mention the boy or Neuman.  These jokes seem to have been added by Editor Kurtzman.

Page 44 - The Elder character returns in "Is This Your Life?" but is now known as "Alfred L. Neuman."

Pages 62-63 - In "Pictoquiz," there are four names possible for a drawing of Stalin by Jack Davis on page 62.  One of them is "Alfred E. Neuman."  The kid (What? Me worry? pose) on page 63 has one of four names: "W.A. Mozart, Isaac Newton, Nap. Bonaparte or Melvin Sturdley."

MAD #25

Pages 2-3 - "Alfred E. Neuman" is the murder victim as drawn by Elder in "RADIODETECTIVELAND."

Page 4 - "Alfred E. Neuman, Elliot M. Neuman and Josef Neuman" are listed in the credits of the "LEAVE ME OR ME LEAVE" ad parody by Elder.  Two others are also known as "Alfred."

Page 5 - In the "LETTER DEPT." a reader asks about the postcard kid.  The editor asks readers to help them track down the source of the photo.

Page 16 - One of the pitchers in "BASEBALL ... SCIENCE OR SKILL?" is named "Alfred E. Neuman" and is drawn by Davis.

Pages 30-35 - In "MAD AWARDS ..." the statuettes are known as "Alfred E. Neuman" and "Potrzebie" as drawn by Elder.

Page 36 - The postcard boy is shown as "MEL HANEY" ("What, me worry?") in "Hollywood Spotlites."  The article was written by Bernard Shir-Cliff.

Back Cover - "Alfred E. Neuman" by Elder is shown as writing a letter to a friend in the "OL CRAW" ad parody.

MAD #26

Page 5 - The "LETTERS DEPT." shows ten images submitted by MAD readers, all claiming to be the original of the postcard boy.  According to the editor: "What, us worry?"

Page 6 - In "THE DAVE GARROWUNWAY SHOW," the Kurtzman Alfred L. Neuman is shown holding a sign that reads: "ALFRED E. NEUMAN IS HERE."

Page 26 - "Neuman + Lucy" is shown carved inside a heart on a tree in "LET'S GO FOR A RIDE!"

Page 31 - "ALFRED L. NEUMAN WAS HERE" is written on a wall in "THE PRODIGIOUS."

Page 48 - "Alfred E. Neuman" is a retired golfer in "MY SECRET" by Al Jaffee.

Inside Back Cover - The postcard kid drawn by Elder is a cabin boy in the "SANOFRANIZED" ad parody.

MAD #27

Front Cover - The bread boy by Davis is in the crowd.

Page 7 - In "LETTERS DEPT." four more examples of the postcard kid are shown.

Page 24 - "Alfred L. Neuman" by Elder is on "ED SUVILLAN SHOW."

Page 26 - "Alfred E. Neuman" is "JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT."

Inside Back Cover - A large image of the "What -- Me Worry?" postcard kid is provided "in answer to many requests for reproductions."

MAD #28

Pages 2-3 - The postcard kid is shown as "Mel Haney" and "Idiot" in the "LETTERS DEPT."

Page 24 - "Warden Alfred E. Neuman" is listed as an employer on Form 1040 in the article ("YOUR INCOME TAX") written by Shir-Cliff.

Page 38 - The postcard kid by Wood is shown in panels 7 and 8 on this page in "TALK."  A different person is identified as "Alfred E. Neuman" in the same panels.

Page 54 - Postcard kid is "WHAT -- ME WORRY?" kid in reproductions for sale at 15 cents each.

MAD #29  (Editor Feldstein)

Page 7 - There is a partial quote by "Alfred E. Neuman" in "FREE FALL FERRIS."

Page 14 - "Alfred E. Neuman" is identified as someone who swallowed a funnel while eating peas in Basil Wolverton's "Dining Etiquette QUIZ."

Pages 23 and 45 - Don Martin's first drawings for MAD were in "ALFRED E. NEUMAN ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS."

Page 43 - "ALFRED E. NEUMAN" is the developer of "PAINAN ACRES" in "REAL ESTATE ADS."

Page 48 - Postcard kid is "WHAT -- ME WORRY?" kid in reproductions for sale at 15 cents each.

Inside Back Cover - "Latest survey by Alfred E. Neuman" with photo is in "BIGGEST YEAR IN MAD HISTORY."


(The MAD World of William Gaines by Frank Jacobs)

"... Norman Mingo, who is still the only artist who can render a perfect Alfred E. Neuman."

"Feldstein used the name [Alfred E. Neuman] as a pseudonym for several stories he wrote for Gaines's short-lived Adult Picto-Fiction magazines."

(The MAD Panic #17 fanzine)

John Ficarra - "Well, strangely enough, years ago MAD used to be located in a section of New York called Little Italy and Bill [Gaines] would frequently go to lunch at a place called Little Charlie's, which was famous for its calamari dishes, and there was a bread boy there.  I forgot his name now; I don't remember it, but he would always bring over the bread and water and what have you, and Bill was at lunch one day with Jack Davis and Norman Mingo and this kid was always so well meaning that Jack Davis drew him into one of the MAD [#27] covers, and we didn't name him or anything, and he had several names, Melvin Cownofski, and he just kept popping up and low and behold, Norman Mingo finally did the perfect version of him that everyone knows and went on to become our mascot."