MAD #21: Cover by Harvey Kurtzman (1955)

It is one of the most glorious and ludicrous covers in comic book history. Disguised to look like an interior page full of novelty ads, it is so dense with tiny print as to be almost illegible at original printed size. Business matters are handled in two small boxes at the top (with a delightful splash of color), while 46 novelty ads cover the rest of the space. It is so true to the originals that it parodies that it’s almost indistinguishable from them from more than a foot away. On a garish comic book rack in 1955, I don’t know if this cover would have commanded attention or would have been invisible. 

It's a great concept and a beautiful graphic execution. And it demanded copy, lots and lots of copy. The typewriter was going clackety clack. A joke was being written in tiny little slivers. Let’s pry open every one of these microscopic parodies, like oysters on a flatbed scanner.

9 responses
Nice work!
Thanks for the breakdown. It's been years since I looked closely at it. This is what made MAD so great.
Having grown up with the Johnson Smith's Catalogues, as well as MAD comics, I remember how funny this one was. Every single item actually did appear except I don't remember the Aeolipile -- even so, it could've been.
5 visitors upvoted this post.