R.I.P. Al Feldstein

al-feldstein

The Passage Of A Legend

Al Feldstein, a legendary comic book artist for EC Comics, and a former editor for Mad magazine, has passed away at the age of 88. Feldstein passed on Tuesday in his home in Livingston, Montana, according to the Franzen-Davis Funeral Home & Crematory’s website.

Feldstein was born in 1925 and grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. His art career started when he won an art contest for children at the World’s Fair. Later on he was trained at Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art and Brooklyn College. He got his first job in comics as a teenager, drawing background foliage for Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

Feldstein served in the military at the end of World War II where he painted murals and drew cartoons for Army newspapers. After his discharge, he freelanced for various comics before joining Bill Gaines at EC.

Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein with a rack of EC comics in 1950.

Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein with a rack of EC comics in 1950.

EC was originally known for educational, romance, and even bible story comics. Under Feldstein and EC’s new leader, Bill Gaines, the son of EC founder Max Gaines, they took the publisher in an entirely new direction. They would become notorious for their science fiction, crime, and horror comics. EC comics featured incredible art, and well crafted writing that was known for their shock endings.

Behind the new line of comics, led by their best known title, Tales from the Crypt, they had an enormous impact on the comic book industry, and pop culture.

Feldstein was an editor for Mad from 1955 to 1984. A period when the magazine filled with caricatures, puns and wackiness was the most widely read satirical publication in America. Mad started out as a part of EC Comcis, but would be sold in the early 1960s and become a part of the DC Comics group now owned by Time Warner.

Al Feldstein Mad magazine ad

Al Feldstein in a Mad magazine subscription ad.

Feldstein believed that Mad was successful because of the counter-culture nature of the magazine.  “We were saying, ‘Kids, Madison Avenue is lying to you. Your parents are lying to you. The president is lying to you,'” he said.

After leaving Mad, Feldstein would to move to Montana and spend his time painting images of wildlife and the American West.

According to the funeral home website, Feldstein is survived by his wife, Michelle, stepdaughter Katrina Oppelt, her husband, and two grandsons.

Feldstein received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Rocky Mountain College. In 2000 he gave a commencement address at the school. He told students that while their carefree college days were ending, the “party of real life” was about to begin.

“If you’re not having fun at the party you’re at,” he told the grads, “go find another party.”

Al-Feldstein

Al Feldstein.

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