I was sent a link to this story from MAD editor John Ficarra earlier this week. The story is from a blog called “Scouting NY“, where a gentlemen named Nick Carr recounts tales of some of the hidden gems and interesting locations he’s stumbled across in the course of his work… scouting locations in New York City for films. This particular story is about 225 Lafayette Street, currently condos on the corner of Spring Street in Soho, but back in the 1950’s it was an office building with one very MAD tenant: Entertaining Comics (E.C.) run by a young Bill Gaines, who had been forced to take over the comic book company (then called “Eductional Comics”) when his father died in a boating accident. This building is where MAD was conceived and first published.
Carr tells a great story not just about the early history of 225 Lafayette and MAD, which he does succinctly and pretty accurately, but also about how much of an influence MAD was on him as a child. It’s a familiar story.. the kid who gets his first issue of MAD, loves it and how it warps him and changes his views on humor, satire and looking at life in general. The best part? Carr’s first issue of MAD was #310, in 1992. I doubt he’d agree with the grumpy old codgers who still whine about how MAD went “downhill” and lost all of it’s “quality” right after they grew up… whether that had been the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or whenever. Carr’s story is proof of the truth of long time MAD artist and current art director Sam Vivano‘s answer to the question “When was MAD at it’s peak in quality?”: “Whenever you started reading it.”
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