It’s no secret that Mad, the steadfast satirical magazine that’s been on newsstands for the past 67 years is all but ending, as per these pieces in the Washington Post, New York Times, and a personal one from The Week.
I learned about it first from Mark Evanier’s blog, as he’s not only a pop culture historian, he regularly works with one of Mad’s most storied illustrators, Sergio Aragonés. Technically, Mad is not completely dead: the magazine will continue as a vehicle for reprints as per a message sent to contributors last Wednesday.
The New York Times piece especially touches on how big of a cultural impact Mad had: people thought of the Mad parody version of movies before they thought of the original film itself! I know one screenwriter who had the joy of finally seeing his film get made as a star-studded Hollywood production, but he felt he had really arrived when Mad magazine parodied said film — and he wrote Mad magazine to tell them so (Mad happily published his letter).
My one brother and I were especially fond of Mad’s Star Trek parodies which were uniformly excellent. Dick DeBartolo‘s pitch-perfect scripts combined with Mort Drucker‘s expert illustrations made for satirical synergy. And they were but one section of many equally distinctive illustrators and writers.
It could be that the wonderful continuity of talent which was such a plus was, in part, part of the minus that led to the current diminished state of Mad. Leastways, the corporate executives didn’t figure out how to transition to junior staff as had happened in the past. Longtime Mad writer Joe Raiola thinks this is both what happened with the move to the West Coast. Still, it’s not dead yet and it might get better from its newt-like state. Certainly the brand is still valuable which, in this day and age, is one of the most important things to corporations. As Evanier notes, someone –perhaps many people– are figuring out how to get the brand to make more money.