Al Feldstein was born October 24, 1925 in Brooklyn, New
York. He studied Fine Art at the High School of Music & Art, Brooklyn
College and the Art Students League. In 1941, while still in High School, he
took a job after school and during the summers at Jerry Iger's comic book art
service shop (Will Eisner had separated from Iger in 1940), running errands,
erasing pages and working his way up to inking backgrounds, inking figures, and
finally penciling and inking entire pages, working on Sheena, Dollman, Blue
Beetle, Phantom Lady and many others.
When he graduated Music and Art with a scholarship to the
Art Student's League, he'd made up his mind to become an Art Teacher. So he
entered Brooklyn College's School of Education, attending during the day,
studying at the Art Student's League at night, and working for Jerry Iger
during the summers.
To avoid being drafted into the Infantry during World war II,
he enlisted in the Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet, and spent the entire war as
a Special Services Artist awaiting flight training. Upon discharge in 1945, he
returned to the Iger shop while waiting for the start of the next semester's
enrollment in Columbia University's School of Education under the G.I. Bill,
and was soon making more money than a starting Art Teacher. He left Iger and
began free-lancing in 1946, creating three teenage books for Victor Fox:
"Junior," Sunny" and "Corliss Archer."
In 1947 he joined William Gaines's "EC Comics", doing crime,
romance and western stories for E.C.'s various titles, writing and illustrating
his own stories. In 1950 he co-created, with Gaines, a new line of horror,
science fiction, and crime titles that eventually became Tales From the Crypt,
Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime
Suspenstories, Shock Suspenstories and Panic. Each of these titles would help
to influence many dozens of other books from a multitude of publishers.
The success of the EC line is legendary, and it's
influence was seen in almost every comic published for many years after.
Unfortunately, the success of EC was crippled by the Senate Hearings on
Juvenile Deliquency and the publication of Dr.Frederic Wertham's scathing
treatise "Seduction of the Innocent" which largely blamed all social ills and
juvenile delinquency on comics themselves. This placed a burden much too heavy
for EC, and soon Bill Gaines ceased all of his titles with the exception of Mad
magazine, which was being edited by Harvey Kurtzman.
But Kurtzman was soon to leave Mad, and Feldstein would
take over the Editorship of the magazine in 1955, a job he held for almost
thirty years before retiring at the end 1984...taking the magazine's
circulation from 325,000 quarterly to a high of almost 3 million eight times a
year by gathering a staff of extremely talented artists and writers,
supervising every phase of its operation, editing or re-writing every word,
designing its layouts and creating the format that led to MAD's phenomal
success, including adopting and christening its now-famous trademark, the
gap-toothed, grinning, freckle-faced Alfred E. Neuman.
Feldstein's artistic style was unique unto itself. His
thick lines, blocky anatomy and two-dimensional visuals were copied by many
during the heyday of the sci-fi and horror comics in the fifties and is still
regarded as highly original.
After he retired, he returned to his first love, Fine Art, and
also began doing commisioned oil paintings recreating his famous EC comic book
covers. Today he lives the life of a cowboy in Montana.