Al Feldstein

Albert Bernard Feldstein (/ˈfɛldstiːn/;[1] October 24, 1925 – April 29, 2014) was an American writer, editor, and artist, best known for his work at EC Comics and, from 1956 to 1985, as the editor of the satirical magazine Mad. After retiring from Mad, Feldstein concentrated on American paintings of Western wildlife.[2][3]

Al Feldstein
Al Feldstein
Al Feldstein by Michael Netzer
BornOctober 24, 1925
Brooklyn, New York
DiedApril 29, 2014 (aged 88)
near Livingston, Montana
Area(s)Writer, Artist, Editor
Notable works

Early life and education

Al Feldstein was born October 24, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jewish household.[4] He is the son of Max, who made dental molds, and Beatrice Feldstein.[5] After winning an award in the 1939 New York World's Fair poster contest, he decided on a career in the art field and studied at the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan.[5]


While in high school, he was hired by Jerry Iger to work in the S. M. Iger Studio,[3] a packager of comic-book stories supplying outsourced content to publishers entering the new medium. He recalled,

...running errands, erasing pages and doing general gofer work after school for three dollars a week (later raised to five...then twelve over the Summer, full time!). ... It was there (at the Iger Studio) that I began to learn to do comic-book art — first, by inking backgrounds, then penciling and inking backgrounds, then inking figures penciled by others, then penciling and inking figures, and finally doing whole pages from beginning to end.[3]

His earliest background art was for Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.[6]

After graduating from high school he attended the Art Students League.[5] Feldstein freelanced art for comic books, including Fox Comics. Feldstein recalled that Bob Farrell, whom he considered a "wheeler-dealer" driving a convertible Cadillac, introduced him to Victor Fox in return for a commission from all payments Fox made to him. Feldstein rewrote Farrell's scripts for Fox and produced the art for the stories. He described Fox as the "typical exploiting comic book publisher of his day, grinding out shameless imitations of successful titles and trends" and mistreating his writers and artists.[7][8]

Feldstein wrote, drew and packaged the complete Junior and Sunny books for Fox, and produced a comic book adaptation of Meet Corliss Archer. Warned by his letterer Jim Wroten to be cautious about payments from Victor Fox, who'd "gotten himself into financial trouble", Feldstein approached Bill Gaines, who'd just taken over as EC Comics publisher following his father's death in a speedboat crash. Feldstein's initial EC assignment was drawing a teenage book, the beginning of a long working relationship with Gaines.[7][8]

EC Comics

Arriving at EC in 1948, Feldstein began as an artist, but he soon combined art with writing, eventually editing most of the EC titles. Although he originally wrote and illustrated approximately one story per comic, in addition to doing many covers, Feldstein finally focused on editing and writing, reserving his artwork primarily for covers. From late 1950 through 1953, he edited and wrote stories for seven EC titles.

As EC's editor, Feldstein created a literate line, balancing his genre tales with potent graphic stories probing the underbelly of American life. In creating stories around such topics as racial prejudice, rape, domestic violence, police brutality, drug addiction and child abuse, he succeeded in addressing problems and issues which the 1950s radio, motion picture and television industries were too timid to dramatize.[3][9]

While developing a stable of contributing writers that included Robert Bernstein, Otto Binder, Daniel Keyes, Jack Oleck and Carl Wessler, he published the first work of Harlan Ellison. EC employed the comics industry's finest artists and published promotional copy to make readers aware of their staff. Feldstein encouraged the EC illustrators to maintain their personal art styles, and this emphasis on individuality gave the EC line a unique appearance. Distinctive front cover designs framing those recognizable art styles made Feldstein's titles easy to spot on crowded newsstands.[2]

Those comic books, known as EC's New Trend group, included Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Shock SuspenStories, Crime SuspenStories, Panic and Piracy. After the New Trend titles folded in 1955, Feldstein edited EC's short-lived New Direction line, followed by EC's Picto-Fiction magazines.[2]


Craig Fischer, Al Feldstein and Ben Towle
Feldstein, center, at the 2008 Heroes Con

After industry and government pressures forced Gaines to shut down most of his EC titles, Feldstein was briefly separated from the company. But when Harvey Kurtzman left Mad in 1956, Gaines turned to his former editor. Feldstein spent the next 29 years at the helm of what became one of the nation's leading and most influential magazines. It is unclear what the circulation of the magazine was when Feldstein took over but it is estimated to be between 325,000 and 750,000. By the 1960s, it had increased to over a million, and by the 1970s, it had doubled to two million.[5] Circulation multiplied more than eight times during Feldstein's tenure, peaking at 2,850,000 for an issue in 1974 (and an average of 2.1 million for that year), although it declined to a third of that figure by the end of his time as editor.[10][2][3]

Feldstein has been credited with giving the magazine the personality of a "smart-alecky, sniggering and indisputably clever spitball-shooter."[5]

Many new cartoonists and writers surfaced during the early years of Feldstein's editorship. This process leveled off in the 1960s as the magazine came to rely on a steady group of contributors. Feldstein's first issue as editor (#29) was also the first issue to display the twisted work of cartoonist Don Martin. The following issue, #30, marked the debuts of longtime cover artist Norman Mingo and artist Bob Clarke. Kelly Freas first appeared in issue #31. Issue #32 brought artists Mort Drucker, George Woodbridge and Joe Orlando, while issue #33 introduced readers to writers Frank Jacobs and Tom Koch. Al Jaffee, who had appeared in four of editor Kurtzman's last issues before leaving with him, returned just a year and a half later. Larry Siegel and Arnie Kogen began writing for the magazine in 1958-59. By the end of 1962, with the additions of Antonio Prohías, Paul Coker Jr., Jack Rickard, Don Edwing, Dick DeBartolo, Stan Hart, Dave Berg and Lou Silverstone, he had fully established both the format and the talent pool that kept the magazine a commercial success for decades.[2]


Mother's Pride by Al Feldstein

After he retired from Mad in 1984, Feldstein began painting again after his son, Mark Feldstein, gave him his first oil paint set since pre-Mad. He left Connecticut and relocated in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he spent three years painting the Teton Range and its wildlife.[3] Two of his paintings from that period placed in the Top 100 of Arts for the Parks, a competition created in 1986 by the National Park Academy of the Arts.[11]

Feldstein moved in 1992 to Paradise Valley, Montana, near Livingston, finding new approaches to depict the Western way of life in his acrylic paintings. In 1999, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts degree by Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, and that year again ranked in the Top 100 of the Arts for the Parks' Competition. He is represented by numerous Northwest galleries, and he continued to create his Western, wildlife and landscape paintings at his 270 acre (1.1 km²) ranch south of Livingston and north of Yellowstone National Park.[11]

In 2000, he was invited to give the Commencement Address to the new century's first graduating class at Rocky Mountain College.[11]

He was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2003.

In 2011, he received the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Horror Writers Association.[12]

Feldstein died on April 29, 2014 at his home in Paradise Valley, Montana, near Livingston.[5] No cause of death was released.[6]


  1. ^ "The Artists of EC Comics"
  2. ^ a b c d e VanHollebeke, Jim (2002) [1999]. "Interview with Al Feldstein". Canovanograms. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Dlugos, Jenn (2003). "Al Feldstein Interview". Archived from the original on December 26, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d e f Weber, Bruce (1 May 2014). "Al Feldstein, the Soul of Mad Magazine, Dies at 88". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b Brown, Matthew (30 April 2014). "Al Feldstein, Who Headed Mad Magazine, Dies". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 1 May 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b Berk, Jon (2004). "The Weird Wonder(ous) World of Victor Fox's Fantastic Mystery Men". Archived from the original on July 4, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Wertham, Fredric (2008). "Who was Victor S. Fox?". From the Desk of Dr. Wertham. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  9. ^ Hajdu, David (2008). The Ten-Cent Plague. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-312-42823-5. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2013-08-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ a b c "Al Feldstein Biography". Gallery Artists. House of Fine Art, Montana. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  12. ^ (March 24, 2011), "Datlow, Feldstein Win Lifetime Horror Award Archived November 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine," Hell Notes. Retrieved November 21, 2016

External links

Graham Ingels

Graham J. Ingels (; June 7, 1915 – April 4, 1991) was a comic book and magazine illustrator best known for his work in EC Comics during the 1950s, notably on The Haunt of Fear and Tales from the Crypt, horror titles written and edited by Al Feldstein, and The Vault of Horror, written and edited by Feldstein and Johnny Craig. Ingels' flair for horror led EC to promote him as Ghastly Graham Ingels, and he began signing his work "Ghastly" in 1952.

History of Mad

Debuting in August 1952 (cover-dated October–November), Mad began as a comic book, part of the EC line published from offices on Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan. In 1961 Mad moved its offices to mid-town Manhattan, and from 1996 onwards it was located at 1700 Broadway until 2018 when it moved to Los Angeles, California to coincide with a new editor and a reboot to issue #1.In the planning stages the new publication was referred to as "EC’s Mad Mag" ("The title was my suggestion," Al Feldstein once said) but was shorted by Kurtzman to just "Mad."

The phrase "Tales Calculated to Drive You" above the title Mad referenced radio's Suspense which often used the opening, "Tales well calculated to keep you in… Suspense!" With wordplay on "jocular," the vertical subtitle, "Humor in a Jugular Vein," hinted at a sinister satirical edge.

Impact (EC Comics)

Impact was a short-lived comic book series published by EC Comics in 1955 as the first title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic, published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein, began with an issue cover-dated March–April, 1955. It ran for five issues, ending with the November–December, 1955 issue. The sub-title "Tales Designed to Carry an" ran above the title Impact. The book was dedicated to stories with shock endings, and was seen as a toned down, Comics Code era version of EC's earlier Shock SuspenStories. Front covers were by Jack Davis, and the stories were illustrated by Davis, George Evans, Jack Kamen, Graham Ingels, Joe Orlando, Reed Crandall and Bernard Krigstein.

There are two versions of the cover to Impact # 1. One logo is yellow and the other is white.

Impact was reprinted as part of publisher Russ Cochran's Complete EC Library in 1988. Between April and August 1999, Cochran (in association with Gemstone Publishing) reprinted all five individual issues. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a single softcover EC Annual.

Jimmy Woo

James Woo (Woo Yen Jet) is a fictional secret agent appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by EC Comics writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Maneely, the Chinese-American character first appeared in Yellow Claw #1 (October 1956) from Atlas Comics, the 1950s predecessor of Marvel. Woo has since appeared occasionally in a variety of Marvel publications.

The character is played by Randall Park as an FBI agent and Scott Lang’s parole officer in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

John Ficarra

John Ficarra (born ca. 1956) is an American publishing figure. He was hired as assistant editor of the American satire magazine Mad in 1980, shortly after his debut as a contributing writer. He became editor-in-chief (a position he shared with Nick Meglin until 2004) in 1984, when the incumbent (Al Feldstein) retired.

M.D. (comics)

M.D. was a short lived comic book published by EC Comics in 1955, the sixth title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic was published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein. It lasted a total of five issues before being cancelled along with EC's other New Direction comics.

Panic (comics)

Panic was part of the EC Comics line during the mid-1950s. The bi-monthly humor comic was published by Bill Gaines as a companion to Harvey Kurtzman's Mad, which was being heavily imitated by other comic publishers.

Panic was edited by Al Feldstein (who became the editor of Mad a few years later). Beginning with its first issue (February–March 1954), Panic had a 12-issue run over two years. Feldstein was the primary cover artist, with stories illustrated by Jack Davis, Will Elder, Jack Kamen, Joe Orlando, Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood. Some story ideas were by Nick Meglin, later the co-editor of Mad. Scripts were by Feldstein, Elder and Jack Mendelsohn, later a co-screenwriter of Yellow Submarine (1968) and an Emmy-nominated TV comedy writer.

EC dubbed Panic the "only authorized imitation" of Mad, but Mad's creator didn't enjoy the joke. Almost thirty years later, Harvey Kurtzman told an interviewer, "Panic was another sore point. Gaines, by some convoluted reasoning, decided to double the profit of Mad by doing a Feldstein version of Mad and he just plundered all of my techniques and artists. For this there was a real conflict of interests."

Piracy (comics)

Piracy is an EC Comics title published in the early 1950s. The bi-monthly comic book, published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein, began with an issue cover-dated October–November, 1954. It ran for seven issues, ending with the October–November, 1955 issue.

Front covers were by Wally Wood, Reed Crandall, Bernard Krigstein and George Evans. The stories of adventure on the high seas were illustrated by Wood, Crandall, Krigstein, Jack Davis, Al Williamson, Graham Ingels and Angelo Torres.

Piracy was reprinted (in black and white) as part of publisher Russ Cochran's The Complete EC Library. Between March and September 1998, Cochran (in association with Gemstone Publishing) reprinted all seven individual issues. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a pair of softcover EC Annuals.

Psychoanalysis (comics)

Psychoanalysis was a short-lived comic book published by EC Comics in 1955 the fifth title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic was published by William Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein. Psychoanalysis was approved by the Comics Code Authority, but newsstands were reluctant to display it. It lasted a total of four issues before being canceled along with EC's other New Direction comics.

Tales from the Crypt (comics)

Tales from the Crypt was an American bi-monthly horror comic anthology series published by EC Comics from 1950 to 1955, producing 27 issues (the first issue with the title was #20, previously having been International Comics (#1-#5); International Crime Patrol (#6); Crime Patrol (#7-#16) and The Crypt of Terror (#17-#19) for a total of 46 issues in the series). Along with its sister titles, The Haunt of Fear and The Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt was popular, but in the late 1940s and early 1950s comic books came under attack from parents, clergymen, schoolteachers and others who believed the books contributed to illiteracy and juvenile delinquency. In April and June 1954, highly publicized Congressional subcommittee hearings on the effects of comic books upon children left the industry shaken. With the subsequent imposition of a highly restrictive Comics Code, EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines cancelled Tales from the Crypt and its two companion horror titles, along with the company's remaining crime and science fiction series in September 1954. All EC titles have been reprinted at various times since their demise, and stories from the horror series have been adapted for television and film.

Terror Illustrated

Terror Illustrated was a black-and-white magazine published by EC Comics in late 1955 and early 1956. Part of EC's Picto-Fiction line, each magazine featured three to five stories. The format alternated blocks of text with several illustrations per page.

The first issue appeared with a cover date of November–December 1955, but the second issue was the last. A third issue existed but was not printed by EC. The Picto-Fiction magazines lost money from the start, and the line was cancelled when EC's distributor went bankrupt.

Terror Illustrated was edited by Al Feldstein. As with EC's comics, Feldstein was the most prolific writer of the title, and generally wrote up to three stories per issue. In addition to the stories credited to him, Feldstein also wrote under the pseudonyms Maxwell Williams and Alfred E. Neuman. Feldstein included multiple retellings of previous stories, a move suggested by publisher William Gaines. This included "The Basket" and "The Gorilla's Paw" in the first issue and "Horror in the Freak Tent" and "Reflection of Death" in #2. Other contributing writers included Jack Oleck (who had worked as a writer on EC's earlier publications) and John Larner.Featured illustrators included Reed Crandall, Joe Orlando, George Evans, Graham Ingels, Johnny Craig, Charles Sultan and Jack Davis.

In 2006 Terror Illustrated was reprinted along with the other Picto-Fiction magazines by publisher Russ Cochran (with Gemstone Publishing) in hardbound volumes as the final part of his Complete EC Library. The reprint volume included the previously unpublished third issue of Terror Illustrated.

Three Dimensional E.C. Classics

Three Dimensional E.C. Classics was a quarterly comic book anthology series published by EC Comics in 1954. It began publication with its Spring 1954 issue and ceased with its March 1954 issue, producing a total of two issues. The stories it contained were classics in that they were recyclings of stories that had already appeared in earlier EC comic books. They were three-dimensional because they were presented in Anaglyph 3-D. Two 3-D viewers were included with each issue.

Tomorrow Midnight

Tomorrow Midnight is a mass-market paperback collection of comic adaptations of eight short science fiction stories by Ray Bradbury, gathered from the pages of the EC Comics comic books of the 1950s. It is one of five EC collections published by Ballantine Books between 1964 and 1966 (the others are Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Tales of the Incredible and The Autumn People), and one of two made up of comic adaptations of Bradbury's work (the other is The Autumn People). The presentation of the material is problematic at best, since the color comic book pages are represented in black and white and broken into horizontal strips to fit the mass-market paperback format. Still, the collections are historically important. They were the first attempt to resurrect the EC comics, only a decade after public outcry had driven them off the racks. They were the first introduction of those comics to a generation of readers too young to remember them in their first run.

The stories are drawn from the comic books Weird Fantasy and Weird Science. The adaptation was not credited in the original publications but was probably by Al Feldstein, the editor of the books. The artists were such EC stalwarts as Bill Elder, Jack Kamen, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.

The cover painting by Frank Frazetta, himself an EC alumnus, is original to this collection.

Valor (EC Comics)

This article is about the EC Comics title. For the DC Comics character, see Lar Gand.Valor was a short-lived comic book published by EC Comics in 1955 as the second title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic was published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein. It lasted a total of five issues before being cancelled, along with EC's other New Direction comics.

Valor was dedicated to tales of action and adventure in various period settings, including Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic era. It was similar in vein to the historical stories that previously appeared in EC's Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat from 1950 through 1954.

Artists included Reed Crandall, George Evans, Gardner Fox, Graham Ingels, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.

Valor was reprinted as part of publisher Russ Cochran's Complete EC Library in 1988. Between October 1998 and February 1999, Cochran (in association with Gemstone Publishing) reprinted all five individual issues. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a single softcover EC Annual.

Weird Fantasy

Weird Fantasy is a dark fantasy and science fiction anthology comic that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. The companion comic for Weird Fantasy was Weird Science. Over a four-year span, Weird Fantasy ran for 22 issues, ending with the November–December 1953 issue.

Weird Science-Fantasy

Weird Science-Fantasy was an American science fiction-fantasy anthology comic, that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. Over a 14-month span, the comic ran for seven issues, starting in March 1954 with issue #23 and ending with issue #29 in May/June 1955.

Weird Science (comics)

Weird Science was an American science fiction comic book magazine that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. Over a four-year span, the comic ran for 22 issues, ending with the November–December, 1953 issue. Weird Fantasy was a sister title published during the same time frame.

Yellow Claw (comics)

The Yellow Claw is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Maneely, the character first appeared in Yellow Claw #1 (cover-dated Oct. 1956), published by Atlas Comics, the 1950s predecessor of Marvel.

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