MAD Magazine Artwork Auction

When the last 36 pieces of iconic artwork from the early years of MAD Magazine go on the block on Nov. 14, as part of Heritage Auction Galleries’ November 2008 Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction, it will celebrate a defining moment in American pop culture.

Fresh on the heels of its 2006 sale of memorabilia from the MAD archive, Heritage and MAD have saved the best for last – three dozen pieces of art, estimated to be worth $400,000 in total, including 12 classic covers, which, in the words of legendary MAD publisher Bill Gaines represent “the heart and soul of MAD Magazine.”

“This is a trove of the most iconic MAD covers and specialty art from some of the magazine’s greatest illustrators,” said Jared Green, Vice President of Business Development at Heritage. “These covers made Alfred E. Neuman a celebrity. His notoriety is owed in large part to these featured artworks by Norman Mingo, Kelly Freas, Jack Davis, Bob Clarke and Richard Williams.”

The collection, currently under lock and key at Heritage’s Dallas headquarters, will make a glorious return to the city of its creation, New York, at the end of October to go on display for the first time to the generations of readers that learned humor and satire from the skillful art and parody of MAD’s creators. A preview of these seminal pieces will be on public display at Manhattan’s Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art (MoCCA) on Wednesday Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“These final 36 pieces were withheld from the three previous sales of the MAD archives at Heritage, Sotheby’s and Christie’s,” said current MAD editor John Ficarra. “We wanted to hold onto them for as long as possible. Not as much as a tribute to the early history of MAD and to Bill (Gaines), but because these paintings were covering up quite a few holes in the walls. This auction leaves us no choice. Now we have to patch and paint.”

All of the art features MAD’s mascot, Alfred E. Neuman. Included are MAD Magazine #30, which depicts Alfred with a Democratic donkey and a Republican elephant ($30,000-$50,000) MAD #30 is especially important as it marks the first official appearance of Alfred E. Neuman on a cover of MAD, setting the standard for decades to come. Also offered is MAD Magazine #126, featuring Alfred as Uncle Sam ($15,000-$30,000). Both covers are illustrated by Norman Mingo, and perfectly capture MAD’s keen eye for political satire.

Other pieces up for auction are the cover for MAD #181, featuring Alfred as George Washington ($5,000-$10,000); MAD #171 substituting Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew for Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the classic Sting poster; MAD #94 cover with Alfred reversing places with King Kong atop the Empire State building ($15,000-$25,000); and MAD #243, a masterful Richard Williams’ cover featuring Superman reading MAD Magazine ($4,000-$10,000).

“MAD Magazine set the standard for smart and irreverent humor, a tradition that continues to this day. Past auctions of MAD original art has demonstrated just how highly readers value the material,” said Green. “We are honored that MAD has returned to Heritage to present this historic collection.”

All of the MAD artwork can be found online at www.HA.com/Mad. To see more from the November 2008 vintage comics & comic art Signature Auction, go online to www.HA.com.

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