Freethought Almanac

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March 1: William M. Gaines (1922)

It was on this date, March 1, 1922, that American publisher and founder of MAD Magazine, William M. Gaines was born. Gaines became a comic book publisher literally by accident when, in 1947, his father, a comic book publisher, died in a freak boating accident. Gaines invented the black-and-white, self-deprecating satire magazine, MAD, in the wake of the hysterical Comic Code Authority, which branded full-color horror and science-fiction comic books injurious to our young people. MAD Magazine’s comic skewering did not spare religion. One satire, called “The Academy for the Radical Religious Right Course Catalogue,” included perfect caricatures of Pat Robertson, Phyllis Schlafly, Donald Wildmon, Ralph Reed and other religious bigots of the day. When emphasizing his sincerity, William Gaines would often declare, “On my honor as an atheist…”

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Originally published March 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer




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