With the success of Mad magazine, which began as a comic book in 1952, a slew of similar satirical comic books flooded the market in the mid-50s: Nuts, Get Lost, Whack, Riot, Flip. Eh, From Here to Insanity, and Madhouse. Most of these imitators lasted only one or two issues, Madhouse lasted for eight.
Madhouse has the distinction of having two issues labeled #1. The first first issue came in March-April 1954. Publisher Ajax-Farrell (a.k.a. the Four Star Comics Group) then waited three years before bringing out the second first issue in July 1957. Both issues had the same cover logo as well as the same art style. Both issues were labeled "A FARRELL PUBLICATION" but the 1957 issue was also tagged as an Ajax comic.
Why the three-year wait between the two #1 issues? One possible explanation can be inferred from the appearance of the Comics Code Authority stamp of approval on the cover of the 1957 issue. The one copy of the 1954 issue that I have found seems fairly innocuous to me, although one story is missing from the copy. In that issue, however, is an advertisement for Comfo-Guard, "The Amazing New Menstral Shield" -- something that seems out of place in a kid's comic (as well as something that might put Dr. Wertham's panties in a bunch). Perhps I'm reading too much into things.
Anyway, Madhouse #1 (the second) is a fast-paced satire magazine with a lot of side gags. The stories take on psychiatry ("The Inner Cell-fff!"), adventurers ("One-Way Ticket"), neighbors ("Just Plain Bull'), and celebrity ("The Diary of Zoo Zoo Gay Gone"). Sure to please any fourth-grade boy in 1957; just add fart jokes and the issue would please any fourth grade boy of today.
Not as biting as the early Mad, but still interesting.