Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"What, me worry?" Alfred E. Neuman

OK the year was 1984 and a young would be computer teacher was introduced to his first Mad Magazine by his father. It was the summer 84 super extra violence issue and I was absolutely delighted. My mother was happy I was reading anything. One of the best and most enigmatic parts of the magazine was the back inside cover. Al Jaffee's fold-ins for Mad Magazine are little artistic puzzle pieces. For those not in the know there would be an unusual page of art with some strange riddle. Then you have the pleasure of folding the page so that two sets of arrows would meet. The picture would suddenly stand changed and the little dialogue at the bottom would spell out what you were looking at. Sometimes they were political and sometimes just cuttingly funny. Ok you must be wondering what the tech angle is. Well a while back the NY Times did a retrospective of these back covers. They show the original and then with a click of the mouse button it will fold it for you. Also they give you some history and context. I was fascinated to find out that every single one was hand painted and no computer was ever used to help the process. Seriously this is awesomely wonderful. I always had the hardest time getting those things to line up. I am bad at origami too. So if you want to walk back in time from the 1960s to the present give this one a try.

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