Another Mad visit.
I may have given the impression that Mort Walker's group scene cover and spread for Varsity were the only and unique precursors of Mad magazine's later regular spreads under the title 'a Mad visit to...' But of course, these sort of group shots were done right from the start of the comic strip. Even Hogan's Alley can be seen as something like that. Still, there is a similarity between the Varsity pieces and Mad, because in both it doesn't seem as if the group shot was the object and the gags the afterthought. It's more as if the group shot is the form to present a variety of gags about a certain subject. More along those lines and closer in time to the Mort Walker (and Harvey Kurtzman) Varsity material are the covers the Berenstain's did for Collier's. I have several samples, but here is a good one from March 12 1949.
The Berenstains were quite popular in the late forties and fifties, producing several successful books of there cartoons. I have never been a big fan of their low key gags, which seemed to be about a certain set of recognizable cliche's about family life. They were the fifties version of the later staple Family Circus. Only for those who like their humor not too spicy. Still, this cover is not bad.