Going for the Jugular Vein
October 5, 2010 10:11 PM   Subscribe

National Lampoon's 1971 parody of MAD magazine. [via Easily Mused]
posted by not_on_display (41 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit, this is awesome
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 PM on October 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, by decoding the morse code in Spy vs Spy I learned a new racial slur; evidently against Cubans. So I guess there's that.
posted by aubilenon at 10:24 PM on October 5, 2010


This isnt very good, but I'm afraid it's being protected by a dense force-field of my own nostalgia.

Drat!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:38 PM on October 5, 2010


I used to read MAD off and on when I was in grade school -- one of their favorite targets was a shameless knockoff publication that tried (and mostly failed) to copy the MAD formula. They even had their own dopey mascot. It was pretty pathetic.

Years later, MAD has slowly sunk into irrelevance, with more ads, a higher sale price, and a reduced release schedule. Meanwhile, that shameless knock-off I was talking about? You may know it better as Cracked.com, internet darling and master of the top-X list. And they're pretty chuffed about the role-reversal, too.

(As for National Lampoon, it's a scandalized shell of itself that's released some of the dumbest movies on Earth. So it goes.)
posted by Rhaomi at 10:38 PM on October 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I remember this... The "now" being 1957 from the Then and Now was one of those childhood's end moments for me.
posted by Tube at 10:41 PM on October 5, 2010


Man, NatLamp used to do some wonderfully vicious parodies. You know they did this as homage. A mean, roast-y sort of homage, but nonetheless.

They were actually still good up until the 90s. Boy did it all go to hell after that.
posted by fungible at 10:50 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Onion and Mad had a parody-off back in 2002.

The Onion: Body Of Missing Mad Magazine Reporter Found In Blecchistan

Mad Magazine: The Bunion.

That Mad Magazine reporter look eerily like a caricature of Andy Zaltzman. Incidentally, speaking of Zaltzman, The Bugle, the podcast he does with John Oliver, is where you should go for your satirical take on current affairs these days.
posted by Kattullus at 11:00 PM on October 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


By the way, the new history of the National Lampoon is a lot of fun.
posted by lukemeister at 12:00 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This isnt very good, but I'm afraid it's being protected by a dense force-field of my own nostalgia.

Citizen Gaines is a classic, so I say fie on you! And your force-field.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:35 AM on October 6, 2010


Rhaomi: I used to read MAD off and on when I was in grade school -- one of their favorite targets was a shameless knockoff publication that tried (and mostly failed) to copy the MAD formula. They even had their own dopey mascot. It was pretty pathetic.

Years later, MAD has slowly sunk into irrelevance, with more ads, a higher sale price, and a reduced release schedule. Meanwhile, that shameless knock-off I was talking about? You may know it better as Cracked.com, internet darling and master of the top-X list. And they're pretty chuffed about the role-reversal, too.


I have no idea how they ever pulled that out. Cracked, as a magazine, was so bad that it made the world less funny by simply existing. It was less funny than a serial killer of puppies. That it would survive in any form, much less somehow actually become good (well, at least bearable) was just inconceivable. I'm honestly curious how they managed it - I suspect infernal contracts were involved.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:46 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or are snark waves emanating from the Nat Lamp universe interfering completely with the snark waves from the Mad Mag universe, thus cancelling out all snark?
posted by telstar at 1:27 AM on October 6, 2010


These days, National Lampoon is but a shadow of it's former self, lending it's once vaunted name to projects that should never see the light of day. In it's prime, however...

Aaaaaaargh
posted by Mocata at 1:51 AM on October 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I remember this. It was both cruelly funny in its own right, and a marker than we were Adults now, and able to look back in disdain at our younger selves who had sucked down the MAD formula like it was cheap beer.

MAD's heyday was the '50s, when they were doing things like illustrated versions of classic lit. The first time I read Rime of the Ancient Mariner was in a MAD reprint. A lot of my early exposure to the classics came from those reprints.

The '60s MAD was admirable for its air of complete cynical disdain for everything. It was a great gift, even though they were sinking into formula. But by the '70s, there was only the formula. And Sergio Aragones.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:36 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea how they ever pulled that out. Cracked, as a magazine, was so bad that it made the world less funny by simply existing.

Cracked.com bears as much relation to the original Cracked as pravda.ru bears to the Soviet Communist Party newspaper. In both cases, someone bought the name of a floundering, obsolete property and used it to launch something unrelated but more marketable.

And wasn't the original Cracked merely the best known of a plethora of lame MAD knockoffs, complete with Neumanoid idiot/underclass-stereotype mascots?
posted by acb at 3:19 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aw, I think you're being a little too hard on poor old Sylvester. I recall that Cracked came out at a different time of the month than Mad did, so you would have something else to read, and they had John Severin, and I liked his drawing style. I see that they ultimately stopped publishing as late as 2007, but I stopped reading it in the 70's, so maybe it went way way downhill in later years. In the early 70's though, when I was 10, I thought it was great.
posted by crunchland at 3:40 AM on October 6, 2010


Maybe this is a good place to drop this page (and link) for The Mad Magazine TV Special.
posted by hippybear at 4:21 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ten ways Cracked finally became new successful than Mad
posted by fungible at 4:46 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


New=more
posted by fungible at 4:47 AM on October 6, 2010


For whatever reason, my parents let me have a subscription to Mad all through my childhood. I was a loyal, rabid reader of the magazine. Yet, there was always a niggling little disconnect I always felt toward the magazine. Then, I discovered NatLamp and this parody pretty much voiced exactly what I was feeling, especially this page. I don't think I've so much as picked-up a Mad since then.

Hmmm...Maybe I should scan my original copy of NatLamp's Sunday Newspaper parody and post it somewhere?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:53 AM on October 6, 2010


And wasn't the original Cracked merely the best known of a plethora of lame MAD knockoffs, complete with Neumanoid idiot/underclass-stereotype mascots?

Yes. Yes it was. I am revealing publicly for the first time that I have assorted issues of Crazy from the late 70's and early 80's shamefully hidden in my attic.
posted by jeremias at 5:25 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]



Yes. Yes it was. I am revealing publicly for the first time that I have assorted issues of Crazy from the late 70's and early 80's shamefully hidden in my attic.


Yep. I was just about to mention Crazy. I have some disturbing memories of that mag for some reason.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:31 AM on October 6, 2010


Mad fold-ins, past and present.
posted by fish tick at 5:32 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Panic" was a "Mad" knockoff from EC Comics, the same company that produced "Mad."
posted by grumblebee at 5:55 AM on October 6, 2010


Cracked came out at a different time of the month than Mad did, so you would have something else to read, and they had John Severin

Not to mention Daniel Clowes, for a while.
posted by acb at 6:59 AM on October 6, 2010


> Yeah, I remember this. It was both cruelly funny in its own right, and a marker than we were Adults now,
> and able to look back in disdain at our younger selves who had sucked down the MAD formula like it was cheap beer.

My adult self looking back still thinks Don Martin was a very great cartoonist, my candidate for Greatest U.S. Cartoonist Who Never Sold Anything To The New Yorker. And TNYer is very much the less for that. I stare at Don's characters' hands all the time hoping some of that hand-drawing mojo will rub off on me.

N.b. the linked Mad parody is dead on, but the Mad that existed before the "formula" set in (the one mostly drawn by Wallace Wood, Will Elder, and Jack Davis and written by Harvey Kurtzman) would not have been such a soft target.

Hail and farewell, Wally.
posted by jfuller at 7:11 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. This is very, very good.

Dick DeBartolo mentions this parody in his memoirs, and how inwardly pleased he was to have been given a backhanded compliment in the middle of the Citizen Gaines piece ("Satire! Sounds familiar. Didn't we do that once?" "[Larry] Siegel or DeBartolo would know, but they're not here.") The fact that the piece is written in his style, well, that makes a different point, I guess.

I never read the full piece, though, and I am just amazed at how brilliant it all is. Absolutely vicious, right down to the masthead. Burning the zeppelin along with Arthur the Plant at the end of Citizen Gaines, the Wally Wood ref, Paul Coker's cliche monsters, a very ham-fisted Scenes We'd Like to See (sorry, Jaffe), hell. I think the only big thing they didn't hit was Frank Jacobs' musical parodies.

But holy crap, that letters column! It's all well done, but the end of it is precisely the kind of stuff National Lampoon did well: reffing in a single column Sartre, Daniel Keyes, and Tommy the Traveler, a notorious undercover cop in the early 70s who would infiltrate campus radical groups, incite them to violence, and then have 'em busted. Man. That's a lot of layers for a simple slam.

Homage or not, however, they were right. MAD had lost its anarchy and energy by the 1970s, and it never came back from that. As much as I love the MAD Magazine I grew up with, I know its formula. Comfortable, perhaps, but formulaic nonetheless. I'm surprised the MAD Primer feature lasted as long as it did. Who were the last generation of elementary school kids to use simple primers, anyway?

(There was also the fact that Dave Berg apparently couldn't draw his way out of the 70s. He was still drawing longhairs in hippy vests and dudes in leisure suits in the late 80s if memory serves. And geez, the NatLamp really slammed him hard. Were his words about "coming together to find a shared perspective" a philosophy he trotted out regularly for interviews?)
posted by Spatch at 7:17 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a soft spot in my heart for Marvel's Crazy. It was an obvious knock-off of Mad but I loved it.
posted by GavinR at 8:08 AM on October 6, 2010


I have assorted issues of Crazy from the late 70's and early 80's shamefully hidden in my attic.

Dude!

1. Tumblblog!
2. If you can snark the badness, Book Deal!
3. Who the hell even needs three these days?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:51 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I came into this thread to fondly reminisce about the Talking Blob.

And done.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 8:58 AM on October 6, 2010


The parody of MAD is accurate, but pointless; after all, the two magazines served what I'd assume were two completely different markets. I'm reading this (and especially this page) as NatLamp's ha-ha-only-serious attempt to get kids who were almost ready to give up MAD anyway, and maybe check out NatLamp (which, although written by college graduates, was done almost entirely from an adolescent male perspective), to maybe hurry it up a little. G'wan, kid, take a look! You can keep it in the woods, along with your porn!
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2010


Spatch: Homage or not, however, they were right. MAD had lost its anarchy and energy by the 1970s, and it never came back from that. As much as I love the MAD Magazine I grew up with, I know its formula. Comfortable, perhaps, but formulaic nonetheless. I'm surprised the MAD Primer feature lasted as long as it did. Who were the last generation of elementary school kids to use simple primers, anyway?

Remember, Spatch, this was published in 1971. Most of your new approaches to pedagogy really didn't take hold until the mid-to-late 70s, at least in my experience (of course, that may have been due in part to my being in parochial schools, mostly, for the first half of that decade).

And, in general, NatLamp's accusing William Gaines of selling out to The Man stinks. Gaines took a lot more heat (and lost a lot more) from being targeted by the Senate in the mid-fifties than National Lampoon ever came close to getting, no matter how outrageous they tried to be (e.g. the "we'll shoot this dog" cover, the VW ad, etc.). I don't think that Gaines drove away Kurtzman by trying to soft-pedal the humor so much as Kurtzman simply got greedy. And if MAD eventually became repetitive and dull (on its way to becoming financially successful), well, I got two words for you: Van Wilder.

(There was also the fact that Dave Berg apparently couldn't draw his way out of the 70s. He was still drawing longhairs in hippy vests and dudes in leisure suits in the late 80s if memory serves. And geez, the NatLamp really slammed him hard. Were his words about "coming together to find a shared perspective" a philosophy he trotted out regularly for interviews?)


I think that they're just assigning him to a trope that Berg didn't particularly fulfill in real life; he made fun of himself as much, if not more so, than any of the DFHs he had in his strip. (If you want a cartoonist that genuinely hated the counterculture and its members, try Al Capp.) And, yeah, his style eventually got stuck in time, but that's practically a universal Old Cartoonists' Disease; I remember being amused at the Buscema brothers (John and Sal) drawing the mid-to-late-seventies high school students in The Man Called Nova as if they were barely post-Beatlemania.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:01 PM on October 6, 2010


Oh, I loved Mad, and in turn National Lampoon. In 1977 I was 14 and it was in the perfection of both magazines that I made the move. Makes me want to look through e-bay for old National Lampoon copies. Of course I worry that they'll stink like pot, but still...

Also, ever notice how Dave Berg and Hank Hill look alike?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:08 PM on October 6, 2010


I have assorted issues of Crazy from the late 70's and early 80's shamefully hidden in my attic.

Dude!

1. Tumblblog!
2. If you can snark the badness, Book Deal!


Look At This Fucking Series of Scans from '70s Mad Wannabes! by Roger Kaputnik
Shit My Dad's Attic Contains by Fonebone
This is Why You're A Hoarder of Second-Rate Pop Artefacts by Melvin Cowznofski
I Can Has Cheezmags by Mickey Bitsko

Well, it's no She's Just Not That Into You, but we could probably move 20,000 or so during the holiday season.
posted by gompa at 1:44 PM on October 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


> Citizen Gaines is a classic

Yup. (And made me feel smug for having always preferred the original Kurtzman mag, even as a kid. And why shouldn't he have been greedy? He was the soul of the magazine. Look whgat happened after he left, fer chrissake.) Thanks for this post, it brings back many memories!
posted by languagehat at 5:19 PM on October 6, 2010


Gaines took a lot more heat (and lost a lot more) from being targeted by the Senate in the mid-fifties than National Lampoon ever came close to getting, no matter how outrageous they tried to be

True, but surely it was more for the horror stuff than for Mad? This is the cover the committee was referencing.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:20 PM on October 6, 2010


I still have some of my Mad magazines from the 50s, but the satire magazine I miss the most is Spy.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:09 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a bitter commentary on our world that that short-fingered vulgarian still has enough money left to be considered rich, while Spy can only be found in the used magazine racks of second-hand book stores.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:44 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ach, Spy was brilliant to my adolescent/young adult self.

.
posted by Mister_A at 7:42 PM on October 6, 2010


True, but surely it was more for the horror stuff than for Mad?

Indeed it was. Actually, Kurtzman did not like the horror books, which were edited by Al Feldstein. While there were some mercenary considerations - Feldstein worked far faster than meticulous Kurtzman and Vault/Tales/Haunt were more lucrative than Kurtzman's war books (Which are incredibly humane and in a real, substantial way, far more subversive that the horrors, as well as being little master classes in storytelling and cartooning), Kurtzman didn't think they were appropriate for kids. Feldstein would replace Kurtzman on MAD, and edit it for almost 30 years.

Kurtzman simply got greedy

I may be misremembering this, but I believe the ultimatum to Gaines was at least partly a result of Hugh Hefner's offer to publish a Kurtzman-headed publication. Kurtzman was happy at MAD but sought more control and craved the legitimacy of the slicks. The 51% thing was sort of a way to bring things to a head. Hefner would publish two issues of Kurtman's Trump before a budget crunch at Playboy forced its cancellation the following year.

For a funny - sorta - take on the Kefauver hearings, check out Rick Vietch's Maximortal series, wherein an upper-popping Gaines proxy takes the stand and fucks things up royal. There's no indication that Gaines actually did that, but there are some who think his testimony did more harm than good.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:19 AM on October 7, 2010


So I finally got around to actually looking at the page scans from the National Lampoon, and I pretty much decided that they were really very mean spirited, and written by people who must have been snubbed by MAD Magazine and weren't hired as writers. I never thought the demographic for National Lampoon ever overlapped with that of MAD, but maybe there was a time when they were going after the same audience.
posted by crunchland at 7:08 AM on October 7, 2010


Ah, Spy! I still have a full run of that magazine - or, rather, the first iteration, when it was good. The comeback issues - best passed over in silence.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:50 PM on October 7, 2010


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