Sunday Maibag

June 30th, 2013 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: What the hell is Max Korn? Even if you don’t wanna tell do you actually know, or do any of the old timers at MAD actually know.. or do they pretend to?

A: Ah… the mystery of “Max Korn”.

For those who are not MAD aficionados, the name “Max Korn” began to show up as a sort of “Easter egg” drawn or written into the pages of MAD here and there… I am not sure exactly when it started, but I think sometime in the mid to late 80’s. “Max Korn” is even listed in Urban Dictionary, where the definition says:

Max Korn a name appearing in the satirical magazine and subsequent television show mad, it is the abbreviation of Maximum Kornyness.

That’s just one of the many theories as to what the name means, if it is an actual person or a . . . something else.

When I first started at MAD one of the first things I asked, right after “when do I get paid?”, was “Who is Max Korn?”. I was told the only freelancer that was ever told the secret of Max Korn was Norman Mingo, and that was after he was dead (Norman, not Max… who may or may not be a person). However I was told to work “Max Korn” into anything I did for the magazine as much as I wanted to. It was encouraged of all freelancers. Beyond that it was only guesswork as to who, or what, it referred to. It is not as prevalent these days for various reasons, but I still sneak it in once and awhile. Here are a few examples:


From “Lotta Crotch: Bazoom Raider”, MAD #410


From “Boston Pubic”, MAD #413


From “Fools of Rock”, MAD #438

That said, I figured it out on my own and I believe I do know the true meaning of “Max Korn”. I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Even if someone did discover the significance of “Max Korn”, I would hope they would keep it to themselves… there are so few unscrambled Easter eggs left in this Internet driven world, a few unexplained mysteries are good for the soul.

Thanks to Nice for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. N Gomes says:

    Well, I visited your blog today in the hope that my question that I mailed you last week might be featured as the Sunday Mailbag, but to my great surprise one of my earlier question has been anwered (answered? Really) here. Actually this question not being addressed for some time since I first post it to you, I thought is actually some State secret which if you answered will turn you into a Snowden, But one of the other visitors of your blog immediately answered it as Maximum Korniness, which i knew was just one of the interpretations so i wanted to hear it from the horses mouth. but now as i found out its about choosing between the answer and my life. i don’t wanna die yet. Not till your blog’s 100th anniversary 🙂


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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