The American humour magazine, MAD, founded in 1952, will effectively be pulled from newsstands after the release of its 9th issue in August 2019. The magazine was widely imitated and influential, affecting satirical media, as well as the cultural landscape of the 20th century. It published satire on all aspects of life and popular culture, politics, entertainment, and public figures. MAD’s mascot, Alfred E Neuman is typically the focal point of the magazine’s cover, with his face often replacing that of a celebrity or character who is lampooned within the issue. With an objective to commemorate the influence MAD has had on cartoonists all over the globe, Unmad, Bangladesh’s premier humour magazine, has organised an exhibition titled, Tribute to Mad Cartoon, at Drik Gallery in Dhaka.
Among other things, the exhibition comprises of double exposure art, hand-sketched and digital cartoons, glass paintings and figurines by both promising and established artists. The wonderful artworks feature a smiling Alfred E Neuman and Unmad’s cheeky mascot.
Renowned cartoonist Ahsan Habib, the editor of Unmad, inaugurated the event on Friday, surrounded by colleagues and fans of all ages. Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy and Morshed Mishu, Assistant Editors at Unmad, Mehedi Haque, Publisher of Dhaka Comics and Nasreen Sultana Mitu, the founder of Project Tiktaalik, were also present.
“I remember buying copies of MAD in 1975, when I was in school. It was unlike anything that I had seen before. Unmad is hugely inspired by MAD,” said Ahsan Habib. “We even sent one of our copies to William Gaines, the publisher of MAD, in 1980. He was really appreciative of it.”
Morshed Mishu believes that most people in Bangladesh came to know about MAD through Unmad. “The influence MAD has had on generations of comic artists is phenomenal. I am sad to see that it will not be published anymore,” he said. “We have arranged this exhibition to celebrate the legacy of MAD in the best way we can, through our art.” Mishu’s double exposure piece at the exhibition fuses Alfred E Neuman and the mascot of Unmad together.
Cartoonist Arif Iqbal shared that Unmad plans to launch online editions, in addition to their printed ones, in the near future. “There are avid fans of Unmad both at home and abroad. We want to reach our audience outside of Bangladesh,” he told The Daily Star. The exhibition concludes today.