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February 11, 2009 8:10 AM   Subscribe

MAD Magazine is another victim of the crappy economy. It's scaling back publication to four times a year...

The bad news comes from Steve Heller's Daily Heller. Admittedly MAD isn't what it used to be back in the day, with almost none of the original Gang of Idiots still around to provide the craziness, but even so... can you imagine a world without Alfred E. Newman? I was a bit too young for the comic book version, but when I discovered the magazine around 1958 or so there was no going back. I still think that some of the best comic art and writing ever produced in this country was published in MAD.

And how about those LPs?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit (57 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Son of a bitch.
posted by notsnot at 8:11 AM on February 11, 2009


Finally, Spiro Agnew gets a break.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:14 AM on February 11, 2009 [19 favorites]


What, me worry?
posted by Balisong at 8:15 AM on February 11, 2009


Um, ok, let's see... "The lighter side of: The economic meltdown!"
posted by ORthey at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


That sucks; at least I have my Don Martin anthology to look at.
posted by TedW at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2009



Growing up with MAD inoculated me from the evils of advertising and general media / political bullshit. I don't know who's reading it now, but there a few younger generations who have become carriers of the viral idiocy we call media and internet. Where lies the vaccine now?
posted by njohnson23 at 8:20 AM on February 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


As usual, I encourage anyone interested in EC, the publishers of MAD, to pick up The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America to get an idea of the forces at work in the industry back in the day. MAD would never have been what it was if Think of The Children! types hadn't forced all the subversives at EC to stop drawing severed heads and start drawing political figures.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:20 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this news was a blow to my son, who has grown up reading MAD in our local library and raiding my stack from the 1970's. I'll have to find new ways to lure him to the library now.

It sure isn't now what it was then (advertising real products in MAD? OY!!), but I do spot a good piece in it here and there these days, and sometimes by really talented comix artists (I like Peter Kuper's Spy vs. Spy almost as much as Prohias's... and I think I may have seen Peter Bagge in there a few years back).

Wish I still had my floppy 45 of "Makin' Out"...

posted by not_on_display at 8:22 AM on February 11, 2009


Snappy Comebacks to Stupid Economies
posted by not_on_display at 8:23 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Couldn't they cut back by eliminating the fold-in?
posted by orme at 8:25 AM on February 11, 2009


I grew up reading Mad in the '60's and '70's. I hold it responsible for my failure to respect authority then and now. For that I thank the Usual Gang Of Idiots from the bottom of my jaded heart.

I was never allowed to read comic books as a kid, because my mother taught school during the great comic book scare of the 1950s when they were supposed to turn us all into serial killers. However, I was allowed to read Mad, I think I bought every issue for 6 or 7 years straight, probably because my dad liked it too.

I actually bought one a few months back and it just wasn't the same. It's also no longer 35 cents (CHEAP).
posted by lordrunningclam at 8:25 AM on February 11, 2009


My parents missed the 60's...no because of drugs but because the were insulated. My education on the 60s and 70s was from 25 cent used copies of MAD at teh comic book store. Mad made fun of everyone, left right and center, and gave me what I think is a pretty healthy view of those times.
posted by notsnot at 8:26 AM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


here we go with another ridiculous mad fold-in

relentlessly the best

insiders win

peasants to fleece

*folds*

rest

in

peace
posted by pyramid termite at 8:32 AM on February 11, 2009 [15 favorites]


It's interesting that Cracked, the Pepsi to MAD's Coke, the Chuck Norris to MAD's Bruce Lee, the Jayne Mansfield to MAD's Marilyn Monroe, has done a stellar (in the "well-planned and well-executed" sense) job of reinventing itself online for the past five years while MAD has stayed stagnant.

I don't particularly like cracked.com, but it's fresh, sometimes funny, and, well, vibrant. MAD, as far as I can tell, still looks and acts the way it has for the last 30 years, which is charming in some respects, but in others -- well, there are reasons that Laugh-In ain't on the tube any more, too.
posted by Shepherd at 8:33 AM on February 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


boyzone
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on February 11, 2009


Sigh. Well at least Spy Magazine isn't going to cut its current output. (oh, where art thou, Taso Lagos?)
posted by Auden at 8:42 AM on February 11, 2009


I don't particularly like cracked.com, but it's fresh, sometimes funny, and, well, vibrant.

Well, to use one of your examples above, Chuck Norris too has been able to stay vibrant for many years now while Bruce Lee has remained, at best, stagnant.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:43 AM on February 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


The fact that Chuck Norris seems to have been turned into an internet cult fad doesn't seem like a deliberate choice on his part, whereas Cracked's decision to integrate with the internet and follow their audience definitely was.
posted by Phire at 8:44 AM on February 11, 2009


Well, if it's any consolation, the Mad magazine we grew up with basically stopped existing once it was sold to Time Warner and opened itself up to advertising. It makes one wonder now that advertisers no longer have dollars to invest in Mad, if the magazine wouldn't have been better off staying smaller and just relying on the (recession-proof) pocket money that sustained it through the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.
posted by jadayne at 8:45 AM on February 11, 2009


At least this gives us a way to market when the economy rallies. Hey! Mad Magazine is back to a monthly publication scale! The Depression is over!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:45 AM on February 11, 2009


Couldn't they cut back by eliminating the fold-in?

I suppose that will end when Al Jaffee dies....and then MAD will probably shut down for good.
posted by brujita at 8:46 AM on February 11, 2009


I had advertis(ers|ments) as much as anyone, but....pocket money is recession proof?
posted by DU at 8:48 AM on February 11, 2009


s/had/hate/

(can you tell I'm working with regexps today?)
posted by DU at 8:48 AM on February 11, 2009


What? Now where will I get my daily dose of broad, easy, Borscht-belt humor? Who will state the obvious in dull, 2-page film parodies? Who will show us the "Lighter Side" of already wafer-thin and care worn observations? SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
posted by littlerobothead at 8:50 AM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Editor John Ficarra to the New York Times, putting the classiest spin possible on the situation:

"The feedback we’ve gotten from readers is that only every third issue of Mad is funny. So we decided to just publish those."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:52 AM on February 11, 2009 [12 favorites]


Reading MAD at the ex-pat bookstore in Chapala was the highlight of many vacations.

I once wrote a letter to MAD, all the way to MADison ave. in New York, a sob story on how I loved loved loved loved the magazine, but could not afford the price of an international subscription, and even if I could, Mexican mailmen steal American magazines. Could they make just one exception and give me a free lifetime membership? Or a discount? I included a 10 Pesos bill, I think.

8 weeks later I got my first issue of a one year month subscription to MAD en Mexico, series 2. With a form letter signed by "el personal usual de idiotas". Damn was MAD en Mexico bad. The translation was horrible, the original art was awful, the movie satires came out months before the movies were in the theaters, the lettering was amateur, the ink would stain your fingers, the covers looked like 3rd generation photocopies.

All I know of the USA I learned from MAD, including how it sucks to be the poor neighbor to the South.
posted by dirty lies at 8:55 AM on February 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


I subscribed to MAD from the ages of about 13-19. Then, as a lot of others have noted already, I started finding maybe 6 or 7 pages out of each issue funny.

The problem for MAD is that it caters to a readership of young, usually teenage and early-college-age males. And that demographic in the last decade has pretty much established the internet as their source of free (and more importantly, forwardable-to-friends) humor.

MAD is essentially Maxim without the photos of hot celebrities. That young boys wanting an entertainment magazine are choosing the one with tits doesn't really surprise me that much.

And yeah, I also agree the best of MAD was from before I was born. I read the collections of 60's and 70's material frequently; the back issues I saved from my own subscription are yellowing away in a box in my mom's attic where I've forgotten about them for eight years.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:07 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, Mad magazine is also a victim of the decline of print periodicals in general, but even more substantially, Mad is a victim of no longer being funny.
posted by Mister_A at 9:10 AM on February 11, 2009



The problem for MAD is that it caters to a readership of young, usually teenage and early-college-age males.
I haven't read one for zillions of years (I'm old!) but I don't remember them being particularly geared towards boys. MAD and candy was the only thing I spent my allowance on from about 1966 to 70. Then I got to Junior High School and discovered make-up, music albums and National Lampoon magazine. The Lampoon was more outrageously funny to me, but I felt like MAD was a big part of my childhood and read it for years out of a certain nostalgia.

raiding my stack from the 1970's
Gosh I'm jealous. I wish I had thought to keep some of mine, but I never liked clutter. "Read em and toss em" was and is my motto.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:27 AM on February 11, 2009


Your mom is so old, she thinks MAD stopped being funny 50 years ago.

Is it really not funny anymore? I think only a 13 year old can answer this question.
posted by dirty lies at 9:27 AM on February 11, 2009


Remember when the celluloid record "It's a Gas" included with an issue was borderline anarchy?
posted by digsrus at 9:35 AM on February 11, 2009


Now, me worry!
posted by jonmc at 9:37 AM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree with the sentiment that MAD lost a lot of the funny when it opened itself up to ads. This still makes me sad though. There was a certain subversion that mad instilled in its readers that I don't know if anything does today. If I'm wrong, please tell me, I'd love to find something else like it these days.

I still have some old issues of cracked. I look at them now and realize the only reason I bought them was because I'd already read that month's MAD.
posted by Hactar at 9:47 AM on February 11, 2009


I picked up a set of CD's containing every issue of MAD from the first up to whenever the CD's were made (late 90's I think), way back when. And the quality and humor really has gotten worse as time passed. In the 50's and 60's it was biting and current, in the 70's it was showing its age, and by the 80's and 90's it was a bit stale.

I'm sad to see MAD passing, but I'll agree with the people above who said it died when Time/Warner bought it. I looked at an issue recently and was just meh.
posted by sotonohito at 10:23 AM on February 11, 2009


I started subscribing a year or two ago after having gone without it for much of the past 15 years. It's still the same humor. I think for most people the whole "OMG! They're poking fun of ..." shock has worn of for most people after a couple of years of reading it after they first discover it so now it's just "not the same". I didn't mind the ads, because it was around the time they introduced color.

I love Monroe, Spy vs Spy is still inspired. The movie parodies are still kinda lame, but they always were. It's a shame they're cutting back right around the same time they're hitting the issue #500 mark. Kind of a down note on a milestone like that.

Check out Tom's Mad Blog, an illustrator and regular contributor to Mad. Some excellent sketch work and discussions of how he makes those awesome crowd scenes.

As for Cracked's "relaunch", it's wonderful if you love top ten lists with overly long snarky comments. It looks like every other wanna-be blog.
posted by inthe80s at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2009


and from that aforementioned blog was this gem last month when the change in publication was announced:

Those who write on message boards and in response forums that MAD has “lost its edge” and “isn’t what it used to be” remind me of MAD scribe Desmond Devlin’s “The Untold History of MAD” article from MAD #400, which recounted the following part of MAD’s historical timeline:

Also in 1952: The second issue of MAD goes on sale December 9th, 1952. On December 11, the first-ever letter complaining that MAD “just isn’t as funny and original as it used to be” arrives.

posted by inthe80s at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


boyzone
posted by DU at 11:40 AM on February 11


In one exception, Candice Bergen is a huge fan of MAD, going so far as to credit it, as I recall, for keeping her sane as a child. (It certainly helped me adjust to American culture in the pre-Simpsons age.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, everything always comes down to The Al ighty ollar, doesn't it.
posted by anazgnos at 11:06 AM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


and in another, Patti Smith has been quoted as saying "After Mad, drugs were nothing."
posted by jonmc at 11:08 AM on February 11, 2009


MAD was the first magazine I ever had a subscription to (1967) and I still read it. I used to know the plots to movies I never saw because I read the MAD versions. I can still sing the lyrics to The Wizard of Oz (The Guru of Ours)'s "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" parody:

Some day I hope
That I'll be hooked
On something better than
A cooked banana.

Over the years my briefcase has always sported a red spray-painted stencil image of Alfred E. Newman's face... I pulled that stencil out of a MAD SPECIAL in 1969 or so and still have it.

Hang in there, MAD Magazine during crap times we really need the laughs.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:16 AM on February 11, 2009


And Tina Brown was just starting to turn it around!
posted by ALongDecember at 11:22 AM on February 11, 2009


Cracked offers a shoulder to cry on

not really - but it is interesting that although "the most durable imitator" of mad magazine did eventually cease publication,
it managed to transition from a traditional print peddler of primarily juvenile but occasionally humourous content
to an online peddler of primary juvenile but occasionally humourous content

maybe what's most interesting is how the content changed in that transition -
replacing the sprawling fully illustrated comic book like parodies
with lists...

Both are used as vehicles to evaluate popular culture in an irreverent but often astute manner,
however the online version has more text, fewer images, and a wider scope overall

I forget where I was going -
medium message blah blah blah -
but there's a lesson about the nature of the media and its relation to content delivery in there somewhere -
even when the goal is as broad and disposable as delivering a good fart joke
posted by sloe at 11:23 AM on February 11, 2009


Ron Thanagar, would you scan the stencil and upload it for those who were not yet born in 1969?

Thanks.
posted by dirty lies at 11:27 AM on February 11, 2009


One night before I was to meet my girlfriend and her mother for dinner, I enjoyed a smoke of primo Thai passion. It gave me the giggles. I ran to a People's Drug Store and purchased a Mad Magazine. At the dinner table, whenever a wave of uncontrollable laughter came over me,
I would open the Mad book and point to a page, and say "This is the funniest thing!". The rest of the dinner went fine, even after my third dessert.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:39 AM on February 11, 2009


Metafilter: Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions

I used to read a lot of Mad and Cracked growing up. Those movie parodies were brilliant. It truly rocked my world when Don Martin crossed the aisle and started drawing stuff for Mad.
posted by autodidact at 12:38 PM on February 11, 2009


Metafilter's Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions

One of these days I'll make a post without having to correct myself.
posted by autodidact at 12:42 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


dirty lies - Scan of Alfred E. Newman stencil. Enjoy! I still make T-shirts with it for friends. Stencils also included in the MAD SPECIAL: CONDEMNED!, LOVE!, DON'T, CENSORED!, ECCH!, a moustache, a footprint and others. Pure fun.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 12:48 PM on February 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


LATE ONE AFTERNOON ON THE METAFILTER

One of these days I'll make a post without having to correct myself.

Not yet. You still need to correct the Don Martin thing... he started with MAD and went to CRACKED, not the other way 'round.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:56 PM on February 11, 2009


Alphabetically sorted list of Don Martin's onomatopoeic sound effects
posted by not_on_display at 1:17 PM on February 11, 2009


When I was about ten or so I remember buying a paperbook collection of MAD. It was called Treasure Chest I think and had a color painting on the cover of some stocking feet, toes pointing up, with a gold necklace draped across them and an open treasure chest there at the person's feet.

The cashier gave me a weird look when I bought it. I thought to myself "What, is MAD too subversive for you?" Years later that I figured out that the "stocking feet" were actually a woman's bosom. Unforunately I cannot find a supporting image of the book cover online.
posted by exogenous at 1:25 PM on February 11, 2009


Maybe, years from now, the current crisis will be remembered in part as the grim reaper that brought an end to the remnants of the 20th century's cultural establishment and cleared the way for a new culture.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:35 PM on February 11, 2009


What, me bankrupt?
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:48 PM on February 11, 2009


I cannot find a supporting image of the book cover online.

A Mad Treasure Chest

</compulsivegoogle>
posted by Zed at 3:02 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem for MAD is that it caters to a readership of young, usually teenage and early-college-age males.

I haven't read one for zillions of years (I'm old!) but I don't remember them being particularly geared towards boys.


I agree. Me and all my female friends, cousins and babysitters read MAD. It was definitely not just a guy thing when I was a kid- it was a kid thing, like Wacky Packs and Rat Fink stickers.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:10 PM on February 11, 2009


Thanks Zed! I guess I imagined the part about an oak pirate chest, but the rest is as I recall.
posted by exogenous at 4:52 PM on February 11, 2009


I think Cracked has a distinct advantage and targets a slightly older age group. Plus, I like how they have semi-true facts (some of the more surprising claims are only technically true) to go with their jokes. Usually, if the subject matter sucks, the jokes pick up the slack, and vice versa. Granted, I mainly read ones that make the front page of Digg and only read the lists.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:09 AM on February 12, 2009


Thanks a lot ron! Printing right now. I am so happy to have a 44inch printer at work :)
posted by dirty lies at 3:29 PM on February 12, 2009


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