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!
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926 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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