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Mad magazine sure knows how to write a great rejection letter

Alfred E. Neuman (Screenshot: YouTube)
Alfred E. Neuman (Screenshot: YouTube)

Although it has an editorial staff and featured the works of certain creators (Don Martin, Al Jaffee, Dave Berg) for decades, humor magazine Mad has no permanent staff writers or artists. Since the publication accepts work from freelancers, that means the editors have to turn down plenty of what gets sent their way. But this is still Mad, a publication that prides itself on thumbing its nose at the rules, so even their standard rejection letters have the magazine’s wisecracking, irreverent spirit. Dangerous Minds has recently uncovered a real gem: a genuine Mad rejection letter from the 1960s, back when Al Feldstein was still editor. Feldstein retired from Mad in 1985 and died in 2014, but his anarchic spirit lives on in artifacts like this:

Dear Contributor:-

Sorry, but we’ve got bad news!

You’ve been rejected!

Don’t take this personally though. All of us feel rejected at one time or another. At least, that’s what our group therapist tells us here at MAD. He says we shouldn’t worry about it.

So that should be your attitude: “What-Me worry?”

Besides - although you’ve been rejected, things could have been a lot worse. Your material might have been ACCEPTED!

Then where would you be?

MAD-ly

(Signed, ‘Al Feldstein’)

Al Feldstein

Editor

P.S. Our group therapist also mentioned that many people are so rejected by a rejection that they don’t try again. And we wouldn’t want THAT! We really WOULD like you to keep sending us your article ideas and scripts. . .so we can keep sending you these idiotic rejection slips!

Now that’s the way to dash someone’s hopes and dreams. The form letter even manages to work in the “What me worry?” catchphrase of Mad’s gap-toothed, bumpkin mascot, Alfred E. Neuman. The original letter is a real keepsake, too. It features not only an Alfred watermark but also Mad’s old address on the letterhead, back when the magazine made its headquarters on “MADison Avenue.”

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