The Usual Gang of Idiots lost a beloved member on Saturday with the news that former MAD production manager and art director Leonard “The Beard” Brenner passed away. The above image is one of many photo gags and fake ads in which Lenny appeared, so MAD readers were familiar with his bearded visage even if they were unaware of the contributions he made behind the scenes.
Lenny was with MAD from 1958 until he retired in 1995, and during that time there were very few pages of the magazine that he did not work on in some capacity. Layouts, comps, type specing, paste up… Lenny did all that. His name has appeared more times on the MAD masthead that only one other person, William Gaines. He was one of those people whose contributions to MAD largely went unsung, except for by the rest of the staff and who know how invaluable he was. Later he took over as Art Director, lending even more to the look of the magazine.
I didn’t know Lenny at all, and in fact only met him once at a MAD holiday party in NYC shortly after I started with them in 2000. However, although most of these tributes to Lenny list his official retirement as happening in 1995, he actually continued to come in to the MAD offices and do the boards for the movie and TV parodies for many years after. I’m not sure exactly when he stopped doing that but certainly for the first 5 or so years after I started with MAD I was drawing on boards Lenny had laid out and prepped. So, even after his retirement Lenny still contributed to the magazine for years after.
I can tell how special a person Lenny was to the MAD family by the profound effect his passing has had on everybody. Peace, Lenny.
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