Harvey Kurtzman created MAD in 1952. It started out as a comic book, and the first issues mainly lampooned other comic books (Superman, Archie). It soon branched out to make fun of all cherised American institutions and I would argue that it was the beginning of modern humor that led to Saturday Night Live.
Kurtzman wrote every story for the first 23 issues of MAD, which were illustrated by the cream-of-the-cartoonist crop: Will Elder, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, and Kurtzman himself.
In 1956 Kurtzman left MAD after publisher William M. Gaines refused to give him controlling ownership. Unfortunately, MAD marked the high point of Kurtzman's career, in financial terms. Even though Kurtzman continued to produce brilliant work, he never again experienced the same level of commercial success that he'd had with MAD.
In this introduction to a 1976 one-shot comic book called Kurtzman Komix (published by Kitchen Sink), Robert Crumb writes a bittersweet appreciation for one of America's great cultural treasures.
I have this comic around somewhere. I bought it when it first came out in 1976. But I can't find it (it's probably in a box at my parent's house) so I just bought a copy on eBay for $5. (As I recall, it's not his best work, but I want it anyway!)
(Via The Pictoral Arts)