Yesterday came news that the venerable Mad Magazine, the satirical/smart-assed magazine published since 1952, was for all intents and purposes being cancelled.
Sure, there are a few “ifs” and “buts” to this news, but essentially the Magazine will be producing more and more “best of” editions and stopping the original stuff.
You can read more about this in this article by James Whitbrook and presented over on i09.com:
To me, and as I wrote on the header above, this is sad but expected news. It’s been many, many years since I’ve read Mad Magazine, and likely well over twenty plus years since I’ve held an original newstand issue release.
But there was a time, back in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, when Mad Magazine was one of my favorite publications. I loved it so much that I even had a subscription to them and got issues over the mail. Not before and not since had I ever done that, and I still recall the first issue I received in the mail…
From 1977 and not one of their “best” issues, nonetheless I loved the parody of King Kong (the first remake film, which featured a very young Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange).
I was fascinated with Mad and eager to pick up their earlier issues. Luckily, they would release “Best of” editions which often allowed me to get peeks at the long history of Mad Magazine parodies.
Many years later and at the dawn of the “digital” age, a beautiful CD Rom compilation was released which featured all the issues of the magazine up to that point. Even better, it included odds and ends found in the various “Best of” compilations, including songs and other silliness…
A few years after this release they released another up to the moment CD Rom set, but this one didn’t feature all those wonderful bonuses.
When I got the CD Rom edition, I tried to read some of the more recent magazines included in the set but found the humor… just wasn’t as good as before.
Worse, many of my favorite artists and writers were no longer there. Don Martin left the book amid a squabble over royalties with publisher William Gaines and eventually went to work for Cracked, did his own series, and passed away. Sadly, in reading the incidentals regarding Mr. Martin’s situation, I couldn’t help but feel that Mr. Gaines had taken advantage of not only him but many of the other artists he hired from the early EC days through Mad Magazine. Mr. Gaines made plenty of money reprinting older strips and, at least according to Mr. Martin, didn’t offer royalties to the talent who made the works.
Similarly, other artists and writers, such as Antonio Prohias, who created and wrote/drew Spy vs Spy, had also either left the book and/or passed away. What I saw with those later issues were works by people I neither knew nor found all that interesting.
Still, it’s incredibly sad to read that Mad may finally be shutting down. It had a good, long run, but today it competes with memes and comedians who are on TV nightly. The humor it brought forward is readily available in so many media and a magazine coming out bi-monthly simply didn’t have as much of a chance.
Good things, as they say, eventually come to their end, and so too it appears to have happened to Mad.