I was reading Mary-Lou Weisman’s biography of Al Jaffee, the legendary cartoonist and writer for MAD magazine, and came across Jaffee’s drawing of his first childhood superhero, a man his father called “Fartman.” Fartman was a fat old European who sat on a park bench in Al’s first home town (complicated, read the book) of Savannah, and farted on command for passersby. “He would challenge me to do it, then he’d rip off another one,” Jaffee said.
I don’t know whether this inspired Stern’s Fartman character, but I do know how much MAD magazine inspired Stern—and how much it inspired me. I devoured every new issue. After I stopped reading it—not sure why, guess I just thought I outgrew it—I never found any humor like it, until I started listening to Howard.