Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Al Feldstein, RIP

Eddie Hunter and Al Feldstein

I hated to  hear that Al Feldstein died yesterday, April 29, 2014, at age 88.

Al  was known for being a comicbook artist and editor of EC comicbooks.  He and his boss, publisher Bill Gaines, would meet every day and  between  them collaborated on a story.   Sometimes they hatched out a story for the comic TALES FROM THE CRYPT, or another horror comic, and another day it might be a story for one of their science fiction comicbooks.  They were producing a story a day.

EC comicbooks also was the publisher of MAD, which was the brainchild of Harvey Kurtzman, which I was a big fan of.   Because of public outrage EC dropped its horror and sci-fi comics, which made Al Feldstein unemployed.  However, about issue number 29 or 30 of MAD I noticed none of the old artists were contributing and the humor was a little more broad-based.  I looked at the magazine credits and saw that Harvey Kurtzman was no longer editor and in his place was Al Feldstein.

I disliked Al Feldstein, he single handedly dismantled the special brand of humor of MAD that I loved so much.  But, with him, the circulation improved - which is a bad thing, you no longer felt you were part of a secret group that only few could understand.  It was almost like a secret brotherhood. 

In the late 1990s at the DRAGONCON in Atlanta my son Adam and I went.  I came across a section that had Al Feldstein!   We talked.  No one else was in line to get anything signed or shake hands with him, like fans like to do.  He told me he retired and moved out west, Montana, I believe he said.  He told me he is doing western art now.  Art like bare rocky mountain s, formations,  and ridges,  Native-Americans and all that looked west.  He told me he was the editor of MAD for 30 plus years, which I already knew.  He was a very likable kind of person.  I'm glad I got to meet him.

During the time slot that I met him I was reading up on EC's history from various viewpoints .  I discovered Harvey Kurtzman was not such a shit-don't-stink kind of guy as I held him to be.  He alone ran MAD and at a point he demanded 55% of the ownership.  Bill Gaines fired him and more or less pulled Al out of the unemployment line and Al saved the publication  from going under.

I think Albert Feldstein  will rest in peace.

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