It's a Mad world at the Cartoon Art Museum these days.
That's Mad as in magazine, the irreverent periodical that has been lampooning American institutions for 39 years.The exhibit befits a publication that once declared on a cover: "This Magazine is Revolting" with "against conformity" in fine print. The original paintings and sketches from Mad range from the silly (squirting staplers) to the satiric (an ad for Aspiring Bootlick Polish).
Above all looms the familiar mug of magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman, famous for his jug ears, freckle-faced grin and trademark philosophy of "What, Me Worry?"
Real estate agent Mark Cohen owns the artwork collection and wanted to share it. The show, "Humor in a Jugular Vein: The Art, Artists and Artifacts of Mad Magazine," is not affiliated with the New York-based magazine.
"Many collectors have wonderful collections, but they never let them out of their own possession. I think it's very important that people get to see things that they wouldn't ordinarily see," said Cohen.
Among the funnier pieces is a 1963 painting by Joe Orlando of "Reader's Disgust," a spoof of the staid Reader's Digest. On the cover, Alfred E.'s head sits sphinxlike atop a pyramid as a nearby camel smokes. The cover also promises titles ranging from "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Ever Wet" by "Your Baby," to "The Encyclopedia Brittanica" - listed on pages 142-43.
Then there are the political digs: "I Was a Sore Loser," by Adlai Stevenson, "So Was I," by Thomas E. Dewey and "Suddenly, It's 1960," by Richard M. Nixon.
Cohen remembers sneaking the "Reader's Disgust" issue into school, fooling teachers who had banned the unruly periodical.
"I still read it today. It comes in a plain brown wrapper addressed to a third party," he joked.