A MAD dash… outside

And now… for a bit of levity: a few favourite MAD covers.

I’ll start with this by-now-iconic cover, that’s nevertheless worth posting (with proper attribution to artists involved and in high enough resolution to admire the details, two characteristics sadly often absent from stuff posted online). You’ll note I’ve skipped over the first couple of Harvey Kurtzman covers (MAD nos. 1, 3 and 4) – which are amazing but a topic for another conversation.

Mad5July1953
Mad no. 5, June-July 1953. Cover by Will Elder, colours by Marie Severin. The busty babe is the least interesting character on this cover!

And it’s back to Kurtzman for covers of MAD nos. 6 to 10. Then I’ll disregard the somewhat boring covers, and jump over the Norman Mingo ones, and that brings us to… Frank Kelly Freas! It shall quickly become apparent that I really like his art (guilty as charged). Having started his career at Mad in February 1957, by July 1958 he was the magazine’s official cover artist (his first was MAD no. 40), and painted most of its covers until October 1962.

Mad43December1958
This one must have been fun to draw. I especially like the three (drunk?) crows singing on Alfred E. Neuman’s left arm. Mad no. 43, December 1958. Cover by Frank Kelly Freas (from an idea by Joe Orlando).
MoreTrashFromMad2-1959
Frank Kelly Freas painted this attractive, colourful cover for the annual More Trash From Mad no. 2, 1959. This cover + Mad labels (you can see some of them here) for 50 cents? Seems like a good deal!
Mad53March1960
MAD Magazine no. 53 (March, 1960). Looks like there’s a woman about to follow Alfred E. Neuman’s bold cliff-jumping example.. unless she’s the one who pushed him off.
Mad55June1960originalart
Original art for the cover of Mad no. 55, June 1960. Cover by Frank Kelly Freas. The sides of the weather indicator would be labelled “Fair” and “Foul” on the actual cover, but here you can really admire the detail of Freas’ deft brush. Alfred E. Neuman would be standing under “Fair”, of course, which would mean he’s predicting the weather erroneously… but maybe he’s just a pluviophile.
Mad58October1960
Another Kelly Freas cover: Mad Magazine no. 58 (October 1960). A summery cover, wouldn’t you say? Look closely and you’ll see that Freas cleverly carved his name onto the bough. Random fact: Freas painted bomber noses during WWII.
Mad62april1961
MAD no. 62, April 1961.

And to wrap this post up…  a lithograph from the cover of More Trash from MAD no. 1 (1958).

KellyFreasLithograph
Everything but the kitchen sink (which has been replaced by a barbecue).

Only three of these lithographs were ever published before the production was stopped as a violation of the MAD copyright. The other two are currently in private major MAD Magazine collections. This is the only lithograph done by Kelly Freas of one of his MAD book covers.

For more (not necessarily MAD-related) FKF, go here.

~ ds

4 thoughts on “A MAD dash… outside

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