Growing up, Mad magazine played a major role in my brain's development. An avid reader, letter writer, and paperback orderer, I can remember times with my mom at the grocery store checkout excitedly putting the newest issue on the conveyor belt and hoping it didn't slip into the crack at the end before the lady could grab it (this is how my dad told me Abraham Lincoln died, except on an escalator), and then making sure it was protected un-crimpedly between boxes of Freakies and Count Chocula, only to be taken out, read aloud, laughed at and folded-in when we got to the car.
A seminal point in my Mad development came in 5th grade during our class' paper drive, when I found a bundle of old Mads that someone had dropped off to be recycled- older ones, which I'd never seen before! This was also probably also the first time I asked myself, "Why would anyone get rid of this?", a question which would reward/haunt me to this day.
In this bundle, which I asked our teacher if it was okay to not recycle (and somehow I think she said yes but that I should write an IOU to President Carter, or something) there was the single greatest article I'd ever read, written and illustrated by the great Al Jaffee, entitled, "If Kids Designed Their Own Xmas Toys". Seeing it was like a revelation- one could draw something, and then make it- exactly the same. It was like a ten year-old's mind-blowing "introduction to design". While in this epiphanal state I packed up all the issues in my French horn case and couldn't wait to get home -even though this meant carrying my French horn out in the open, which made it easy prey for a couple of older girls who liked to grab it, blow into the mouthpiece and then threaten to pee into the bell.
So, our book is filled with sketches as well as photos, and whenever I drew a project (most projects being based on "why would anyone get rid of this"...), while not using the exact same concept (or at least documenting it that way), the Mad article and Al Jaffee's genius were always somewhere in my mind. So thank you, Al Jaffee.