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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

MAD: Roger Clemens Hall of Fame Plaque Revealed

Duck Edwing to Duck Halloffamewing…when is the last freakin’ time MAD magazine was funny?

il

Legendary baseball fraud Roger Clemens beat the steroid-perjury rap yesterday when a jury declared him innocent of lying to Congress — thereby boosting his chances of getting into to the Hall of Fame from “zero” to “hopelessly remote.” On the off chance that he does make it, here’s the plaque that awaits him in Cooperstown.

 

Repoz Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:12 AM | 79 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: roger clemens

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   1. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:17 AM (#4161823)
Duck Edwing to Duck Halloffamewing…when is the last freakin’ time MAD magazine was funny?

June of 1955, to be exact, which is when the Congressionally mau-maued "Comics Code" took effect and turned MAD into a kind of Jay Leno for teenagers. You have to see the first 23 issues to fully appreciate the extent of the damage.
   2. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4161836)
To be even more exact, not a single issue of MAD was ever published under the Comics Code Authority. Its comic book days predated the Code, and its magazine days were never subject to it.
   3. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:34 AM (#4161842)
What kind of slime would I marry?

What me worry?
   4. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4161848)
They're really sockin' it to that Spiro Agnew guy again! He must work there or something.
   5. Guapo Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:57 AM (#4161859)
My attempts to fold-in my computer monitor are not working.
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4161875)
To be even more exact, not a single issue of MAD was ever published under the Comics Code Authority. Its comic book days predated the Code, and its magazine days were never subject to it.

They changed to a magazine format to avoid being held to CCA standards of "decency", but the censorship they imposed on themselves after the switch made the change in format largely a moot point. In terms of content, the comic book MAD and the magazine MAD were two completely different animals, one a freewheeling and often savage burlesque of nearly everything, and the other best represented by the leftward fork in this classic National Lampoon cover.
   7. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4161876)
Duck Edwing to Duck Halloffamewing…when is the last freakin’ time MAD magazine was funny?


The correct answer has always been roughly "about the time whoever's asking turned 13."

   8. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4161878)
The Kurtzman issues of Mad were, as Andy alludes to, precedent-setting & hugely influential on the humor/satire milieu at large. The next several years of the (Feldstein?) magazine were different but quite often very nearly as great.

And then, as indicated in my previous post, I turned 13.

censorship they imposed on themselves after the switch


I'm not really aware of any self-censorship (which certainly doesn't mean it didn't happen). I think the differences in approach stemmed from the differences between Kurtzman's extremely hands-on approach & Feldstein's, not to mention their different world-views in general. Whether a magazine Mad under Kurtzman would've attained the huge circulation that Feldstein's did, I have no idea; lord knows, Trump, Help & (I think) a 3rd mag I can't name at the moment didn't exactly set the magazine world on fire.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM (#4161897)
Duck Edwing to Duck Halloffamewing…when is the last freakin’ time MAD magazine was funny?


The correct answer has always been roughly "about the time whoever's asking turned 13."

I was 10 at the time of the switch, and even at that age the dropoff in humor was obvious. It was like the difference between watching Richard Pryor live and then watching a version of the same concert that was "edited" for network television.

-----------------------------------------------------------

I'm not really aware of any self-censorship (which certainly doesn't mean it didn't happen). I think the differences in approach stemmed from the differences between Kurtzman's extremely hands-on approach & Feldstein's, not to mention their different world-views in general.

Whether it was editorial self-censorship or merely a different worldview (I'd say it was both), the proof is in the watered down content.

Whether a magazine Mad under Kurtzman would've attained the huge circulation that Feldstein's did, I have no idea; lord knows, Trump, Help & (I think) a 3rd mag I can't name at the moment didn't exactly set the magazine world on fire.

I'm about 99.8% certain that the original comic book version of MAD would never have achieved the financial success that the magazine did. The pressures from above would have cut off the normal mass distribution channels, and that alone would have marginalized it in its time. It wasn't until Crumb, Shelton, and the National Lampoon came along that that sort of humor could begin to be accepted by even the fringes of the mainstream.
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4161900)
They changed to a magazine format to avoid being held to CCA standards of "decency",

No, they didn't. That's the standard story, but it's false. Editor Harvey Kurtzman got an offer to become an assistant editor for Pageant. And he parlayed it into an agreement by publisher Gaines to convert MAD the comic into MAD the magazine, where Kurtzman would be no one's assistant.

This jockeying roughly coincided with the Kefauver hearings and Dr. Wertham and the Comics Code and the distributors killing the rest of EC's comic book line by refusing to ship the issues out. And that's why people have always conflated the external battles with MAD's internal upgrade to a different format. Gaines had actually suggested the Code to the other publishers, and tried to make his business workable within it; getting away from the censors at just the moment he did was the happiest accident of his life.

but the censorship they imposed on themselves after the switch made the change in format largely a moot point. In terms of content, the comic book MAD and the magazine MAD were two completely different animals, one a freewheeling and often savage burlesque of nearly everything, and the other best represented by the leftward fork in this classic National Lampoon cover.

Your suggestion of self-censorship is most simply dismissed by looking at the actual product they produced. MAD listed its lawyer in its masthead, to make it simpler for people who wished to sue them. The magazine certainly became influential, ubiquitous and familiar enough to become a Lampoon target.

Whether a magazine Mad under Kurtzman would've attained the huge circulation that Feldstein's did, I have no idea; lord knows, Trump, Help & (I think) a 3rd mag I can't name at the moment didn't exactly set the magazine world on fire.

You're thinking of Humbug. That lasted 10 or 11 issues, never sold much, and had distribution troubles of its own. Trump never got the chance to succeed or fail; it was a casualty of a financial crunch at Playboy (Hefner was its publisher). Help! lasted a couple of years but never really hit.
   11. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4161915)
You're thinking of Humbug.


Yep. Thanks!
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4161922)
Wow, I never knew all this stuff about MAD Magazine. I always thought it was just a collection of puns and Leno-style satire for 12-year-olds.
   13. RJ in TO Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4161931)
For those who are interested, DC has released (or will soon be releasing) hardcover editions of all the original MAD comics. Volume 1 and 2, covering the first 12 issues were released about 5 years back, if not longer. Volume 3, covering issues 13 to 18 was released last month, and the fourth volume will be released in November.
   14. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4161933)
Wow, I never knew all this stuff about MAD Magazine. I always thought it was just a collection of puns and Leno-style satire for 12-year-olds.


Consider this thread as an opportunity for dialogue & education.

Also, you should have your sense of cultural history taken away.
   15. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4161938)
For those who are interested, DC has released (or will soon be releasing) hardcover editions of all the original MAD comics. Volume 1 and 2, covering the first 12 issues were released about 5 years back, if not longer. Volume 3, covering issues 13 to 18 was released last month, and the fourth volume will be released in November.


Back in '97, a magazine-sized full-color reprint series called Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad came out that evidently included all the original comics issues. Unfortunately, the final issue -- #8 -- has eluded me so far; I bought the first 7, I think, right off the 'stands.

   16. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4161950)
This jockeying roughly coincided with the Kefauver hearings and Dr. Wertham and the Comics Code and the distributors killing the rest of EC's comic book line by refusing to ship the issues out. And that's why people have always conflated the external battles with MAD's internal upgrade to a different format.

Well, Mad also promotes that idea. Years and years ago I read a history of the publication that was put out by Mad and I recall it flat out stated that the switch to a magazine was for the express purpose of avoiding the censors. In fact, this is the first time I recall hearing the "official" version challenged.
   17. Famous Original Joe C Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4161957)

Also, you should have your sense of cultural history taken away.


Sorry, too busy playing video games.

(joke)
   18. Dave Spiwak Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4161958)
I was always more of a Cracked guy.
   19. RJ in TO Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4161961)
In fact, this is the first time I recall hearing the "official" version challenged.

There was a biography of Kurtzman put out a year or so ago. I believe this different version was mentioned there. I've seen it in one or two other locations as well, although I can't remember specific names.
   20. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4161975)
They changed to a magazine format to avoid being held to CCA standards of "decency",

No, they didn't. That's the standard story, but it's false. Editor Harvey Kurtzman got an offer to become an assistant editor for Pageant. And he parlayed it into an agreement by publisher Gaines to convert MAD the comic into MAD the magazine, where Kurtzman would be no one's assistant.

This jockeying roughly coincided with the Kefauver hearings and Dr. Wertham and the Comics Code and the distributors killing the rest of EC's comic book line by refusing to ship the issues out. And that's why people have always conflated the external battles with MAD's internal upgrade to a different format. Gaines had actually suggested the Code to the other publishers, and tried to make his business workable within it; getting away from the censors at just the moment he did was the happiest accident of his life.


That's an interesting correction, and it speaks to Gaines' main motivation, which was keeping his publication going. That takes Gaines off the hook, but it doesn't change the fact that the magazine version of MAD was but a shell of its much more robust previous self. The transition wasn't completely abrupt, but within a few years you started getting stuff so bland and predictable that even Donald Duck was more outrageous.

but the censorship they imposed on themselves after the switch made the change in format largely a moot point. In terms of content, the comic book MAD and the magazine MAD were two completely different animals, one a freewheeling and often savage burlesque of nearly everything, and the other best represented by the leftward fork in this classic National Lampoon cover.

Your suggestion of self-censorship is most simply dismissed by looking at the actual product they produced. MAD listed its lawyer in its masthead, to make it simpler for people who wished to sue them. The magazine certainly became influential, ubiquitous and familiar enough to become a Lampoon target.


No, my suggestion of self-censorship is based on knowing the content of the two formats. I've never said that it wasn't "influential, ubiquitous and familiar", but just the fact that it became a sitting duck for a National Lampoon parody should tell you how far it had strayed from its original vision.
   21. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4161981)
Th Al-ighty ollar?
   22. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4161982)
Anyone else remember Cracked?
   23. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4161989)
And the occasional issue of Crazy?
   24. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4161998)
Anyone else remember Cracked?


Definitely. Loved it as a kid; it was a solid second to Mad. (Sick was a not-so-solid rather distant third.) Great John Severin art, of course.

A two-volume history of Cracked has come out within the last couple of years, but last time I looked the books had stubbornly refused to show up cheap from Amazon Marketplace sellers, so I haven't seen either of them.
   25. Hack Wilson Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4162018)
Anyone else remember Cracked?


Yeah I really liked Help too. I just learned that Terry Gilliam drew for Help and met John Cleese there.
   26. phredbird Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4162027)
I was 10 at the time of the switch, and even at that age the dropoff in humor was obvious.


oh please. thanks, i'll get off your lawn, whatever.

read mad magazine obsessively all through my formative years, read the comics versions too when they came out in paperback. i still have them somewhere. it was a great humor magazine in all its various incarnations.

striped t-shirst, dungarees, bazooka bubble gum, converse sneakers ... every month the neighborhood kids sat around reading from mad magazine and passing it around. sun-dappled youth.

and then the world turned to sh1t.
   27. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4162029)
Yeah I really liked Help too. I just learned that Terry Gilliam drew for Help and met John Cleese there.


Gloria Steinem worked there as well.
   28. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4162031)
Pops: Well, Mad also promotes that idea. Years and years ago I read a history of the publication that was put out by Mad and I recall it flat out stated that the switch to a magazine was for the express purpose of avoiding the censors. In fact, this is the first time I recall hearing the "official" version challenged.

MAD never put out any such version.

From the 1972 biography "The Mad World of William M. Gaines":
"But Kurtzman was restless in comics. "I never felt I was part of the legitimate publishing establishment," he recalls. "Comics were a bastard form. I wanted to get into the world of slicks. That was publishing. Of course, with the advantage of hindsight, I don't feel that way now."
That he did then was due, partly, to a 1954 article about Mad that appeared in Pageant. Later that year, Pageant's editor offered Kurtzman a full-time job as his right-hand man. Kurtzman was tempted. Pageant was a slick. Also, comic book censorship was coming and he feared that Mad was too freewheeling to survive it. He told Gaines that he wanted to take the new job. Gaines made a counterproposal.
"Harvey, you once told me you wanted to turn Mad into a slick. Stay, and I'll let you do it."

Twenty years later, from "Completely MAD," the authorized history:
"The mainstream Pageant magazine had even run an article on [Mad], one of the few bits of positive press the embattled EC had received lately. Kurtzman had become acutely aware of the vulnerability and limitations of his position as a "lowly comic book editor" when Harris Shevelson, the editor of Pageant, offered him a job that would solve these positions in one fell swoop: work on a "slick" as his right-hand man... [Gaines] offered to allow Kurtzman to turn Mad into a slick magazine, a risky proposition that Gaines now realizes was "a piece of luck because Mad comics could never have gone through the Comics Code Association."

There have been hundreds of sources which offer(ed) the more familiar but incorrect version of events. But MAD isn't one of them. They recognized the advantage of getting away from the Code, but no one at the time understood how fundamental the move would be to MAD's success.

Andy: I've never said that it wasn't "influential, ubiquitous and familiar", but just the fact that it became a sitting duck for a National Lampoon parody should tell you how far it had strayed from its original vision.

Sorry, but that's ridiculous. What that tells us is that the National Lampoon mocked prominent things. The same issue of Lampoon that featured the Mad parody included other articles making fun of the peace movement, "Sesame Street" and the Beatles. I'm not sure that "Sesame Street" had strayed terribly far from its original vision by the middle of its second season.
   29. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4162032)
read mad magazine obsessively all through my formative years, read the comics versions too when they came out in paperback. i still have them somewhere. it was a great humor magazine in all its various incarnations.


Which reminds me of a question I've asked a time or two on various comics-related sites without (IIRC) getting an answer one way or the other -- anyone have any idea of what percentage of the magazines (not the comics-format editions) showed up in the numerous paperbacks over the years? I made a point a few years ago of accumulating all the paperback collections (which I loved dearly as a kid) through roughly 1975, but I'm pretty sure that means any number of features from the '50s-'70s have eluded my grasp.
   30. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4162033)
I'm not sure that "Sesame Street" had strayed terribly far from its original vision by the middle of its second season.


The Cookie Monster was a total ####### sellout, man.
   31. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM (#4162034)
Good god. I think Andy is more old-fogeyish when it comes to early vs. later Mad than I am as regards video games. Assuming that's possible.

   32. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4162085)
I was 10 at the time of the switch, and even at that age the dropoff in humor was obvious.

oh please. thanks, i'll get off your lawn, whatever.

read mad magazine obsessively all through my formative years, read the comics versions too when they came out in paperback. i still have them somewhere. it was a great humor magazine in all its various incarnations.


Different strokes for different folks, but I doubt if you'd get many good comedians to agree with that evenhanded take, and I haven't seen too many congressional committees going after MAD magazine the way they went after the style of humor found in the earlier version.

--------------------------------------------------

Andy: I've never said that it wasn't "influential, ubiquitous and familiar", but just the fact that it became a sitting duck for a National Lampoon parody should tell you how far it had strayed from its original vision.

Sorry, but that's ridiculous. What that tells us is that the National Lampoon mocked prominent things. The same issue of Lampoon that featured the Mad parody included other articles making fun of the peace movement, "Sesame Street" and the Beatles. I'm not sure that "Sesame Street" had strayed terribly far from its original vision by the middle of its second season.


And I'm sorry, but that totally evades the point that it was MAD's bland inoffensiveness that made it such an easy and obvious target, just as the piety of the peace movement made it a comparable sitting duck. The fact that the National Lampoon parodied phenomena from all walks of life doesn't mean that they didn't richly deserve it.

--------------------------------------------------

Good god. I think Andy is more old-fogeyish when it comes to early vs. later Mad than I am as regards video games. Assuming that's possible.

Sorry, but Crispix had it nailed in # 12. The later MAD is little more than a collection of puns and Leno-style satire for 12-year-olds. Sorry if that opinion offends anyone, and I'll let the video gamers speak for themselves.
   33. depletion Posted: June 20, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4162086)
That Mad magazine still exists is amazing.
   34. Bitter Mouse Posted: June 20, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4162093)
That Mad magazine still exists is amazing.


There are still 12 year olds.
   35. Morty Causa Posted: June 20, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4162097)
I'll never wash these eyes again.
   36. smileyy Posted: June 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4162117)
I remember Cracked as the...well...Burger King to MAD's McDonald's? Which probably meant it was better and they tried harder, but stupid young me only ever wanted the #1 popular brand.

That said, I was amazed when they reinvented themselves as the wildly popular Cracked.com
   37. Nasty Nate Posted: June 20, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4162124)
apparently steroids give you jaundice
   38. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 20, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4162132)
Gef:
a question I've asked a time or two on various comics-related sites without (IIRC) getting an answer one way or the other -- anyone have any idea of what percentage of the magazines (not the comics-format editions) showed up in the numerous paperbacks over the years? I made a point a few years ago of accumulating all the paperback collections (which I loved dearly as a kid) through roughly 1975, but I'm pretty sure that means any number of features from the '50s-'70s have eluded my grasp.

The least reprinted MAD material comes from the earliest magazine issues: from mid-1955 to around 1958. Some of it is atypical "un-MAD" stuff that appeared while they were groping their way towards the magazine we know. Some of it could not be reprinted due to copyright/ownership reasons. Before MAD assembled their full staff of freelancers, and because it seemed like something magazines were supposed to do, they adapted a lot of preexisting material from people like Jean Shepherd, Ernie Kovacs, Jules Feiffer, Bob and Ray, Henry Morgan, and Tom Lehrer. (Or as Andy might call them, unfunny mainstream entertainers.)

Andy:
Different strokes for different folks, but I doubt if you'd get many good comedians to agree with that evenhanded take, and I haven't seen too many congressional committees going after MAD magazine the way they went after the style of humor found in the earlier version.

You've seen fewer than you realize. No congressional committee ever went after the MAD comic book. The Kefauver hearings dealt almost exclusively with crime and horror comics. And MAD's reputation in the comedy community is impregnable. Al Jaffee, who never drew a dot for the original 23 comic books, was greeted as a legend in the "Daily Show" offices when he delivered a piece for one of their books.

The later MAD is little more than a collection of puns and Leno-style satire for 12-year-olds. Sorry if that opinion offends anyone

There's nothing terribly offensive about faulty judgement. It would be just as simple to toss off a glib negative dismissal of National Lampoon, but it would be just as untrue. Both magazines were doing some superlative work in the early 1970s.

Here is a fairly recent six-page MAD article that appeared in the summer of 2010... whether the satire measures up to the great Jay Leno, you'll have to decide for yourself. The only thing that's beyond debate is that today's 12-year-olds can't get enough caricatures of Jonathan Alter and Charles Krauthammer.
   39. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 20, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4162137)
As a kid, I loved the send-ups of the movies.
Even for movies I had never seen (or heard of), like "The Godfather" (original and sequel).

Then, when I got older, I saw the movies and realized that the MAD send up was even SMARTER than I imagined.
   40. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 20, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4162145)
I bought a rather ragged copy of Mad Follies #5 just a few months ago purely because I wanted a copy of a boxing-movie parody called "Crazy Fists" that I vaguely remembered reading as a kid. Had no idea what it was called, but for some reason I remembered that the main character played the ocarina, & damn if Google didn't turn up a panel-by-panel reprinting of the strip on an ocarina-focused website.

Actual baseball connection: I'm pretty sure the fold-in back cover concerns the then-dreadful Mets. The mag came out in '67, so even when I first encountered it I'd somehow acquired it as a back issue; the first issue I actually bought was #118, cover-dated May 1968.
   41. Morty Causa Posted: June 20, 2012 at 04:34 PM (#4162186)
As a kid, I loved the send-ups of the movies.Then, when I got older, I saw the movies and realized that the MAD send up was even SMARTER than I imagined.


Me, too. I still have a fond memory for their long satire of My Fair Lady, entitled I think "My Fair Ad-Man" (or was it "You're a Pig, Mallion"). (It would now be My Fair Mad Man, I guess.) In their version back then, Cary Grant had the Rex Harrison part (Jack Warner had wanted him as Higgins), and although Grant is probably one of the most handsome men in history it was some delicious artwork caricaturing. Sinatra, I think, was a beatnik role reversal Eliza Doolittle. I always thought it great.
   42. bigglou115 Posted: June 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4162189)
Anyone else remember Cracked?


I'm too young to have really appreciated Cracked when it was in print, but I've gone back and looked at some since. I love the website, maybe the funniest thing on the internet IMHO.
   43. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: June 20, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4162203)
I saw some 10-11 year old on the train recently reading a copy of Mad and my heart was truly filled with gladness. I think it's a wonderful tool for a person that age. They are going to find out for themselves soon enough what a ######-up world it is, and they will need a developed sense of humor to deal with it.

I always thought of Cracked as second-rate (I bought both every month anyway), and count me among those pleasantly surprised it's become one of the funniest and informative websites I've seen.
   44. phredbird Posted: June 20, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4162224)
read mad magazine obsessively all through my formative years, read the comics versions too when they came out in paperback. i still have them somewhere. it was a great humor magazine in all its various incarnations.

Different strokes for different folks, but I doubt if you'd get many good comedians to agree with that evenhanded take, and I haven't seen too many congressional committees going after MAD magazine the way they went after the style of humor found in the earlier version.


ridiculous. you've been hanging out with comedians and they say this? and as noted above, the committees never went after mad magazine. but feel free to assert something that can't be verified.

i get that the early versions are more to your taste. own that. meanwhile, you might want to refrain from trying to bolster your opinions with wild speculation.

from what i remember, the humor kind of matured, that's all. it wasn't as slapstick and off the wall, but a little more nuanced, though there were some nutty bits. it read as irreverent as ever imho.
   45. phredbird Posted: June 20, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4162228)
Had no idea what it was called, but for some reason I remembered that the main character played the ocarina, & damn if Google didn't turn up a panel-by-panel reprinting of the strip on an ocarina-focused website.


oh man, i remember this ... awesome ... george chakiris is the young boxer and bette davis is the mother.
   46. Morty Causa Posted: June 20, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4162236)
That caricature of Bette Davis was somewhat ambiguous at times. In the first panel it was almost definitely Davis, then she reminded me of Jesse Royce Landis (Cary Grant's mother in North By Northwest), then sort of like maybe Celeste Holm toward the end. But I always loved the caricature of the stars. Who was the girl friend?
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4162259)
I haven't seen too many congressional committees going after MAD magazine the way they went after THE STYLE OF HUMOR found in the earlier version.

and as noted above, the committees never went after mad magazine. but feel free to assert something that can't be verified.


I used caps because the underline function doesn't work. I did not say that the committee went specifically after MAD, though (a) they went after EC Comics, which was MAD's publisher; and (b) the style of humor in the magazine was markedly toned down to be more in line with the sensibilities of the mainstream. Whether you or I liked the result is neither here nor there.

MAD comics routinely depicted exactly the sort of gratuitous violence and cheesecake that both Wertham and the congressional committee pursued. Obviously the difference was that MAD was a parody while many of the other EC comics weren't, but if that sort of distinction had been recognized, there wouldn't have been the impetus to change the style of humor. As Gonfalon notes, the distributors refused to ship the rest of the EC line and the hint was obviously well taken. Perhaps this was cause and effect and perhaps it was purely a coincidence. I'm not sure why that matters when the outcome was the same.
   48. phredbird Posted: June 20, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4162320)
I used caps because the underline function doesn't work. I did not say that the committee went specifically after MAD, though (a) they went after EC Comics, which was MAD's publisher


which is different from what you inferred before. which others have pointed out. so you were mistaken.

(b) the style of humor in the magazine was markedly refined to be more in line with the sensibilities of readers whose sense of humor was more developed than nosepicking adolescents.


ftfy.

That caricature of Bette Davis was somewhat ambiguous at times. In the first panel it was almost definitely Davis, then she reminded me of Jesse Royce Landis (Cary Grant's mother in North By Northwest), then sort of like maybe Celeste Holm toward the end.


i see what you're saying, but actually jesse royce landis and celeste holm both had looks that were quite similar to davis, depending on what movie they were in. i kind of liked that ... it was always part of the fun to read the strips and decide from panel to panel how close the artist came to capturing the celebrity ... the girlfriend was some ingenue i'm sure. i'll have to go look at it again.
   49. phredbird Posted: June 20, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4162334)
can't figure out who the girlfriend is ... but those drawings of keenan wynn and buddy hackett were great. i also get a kick out of the way they did the word balloons in those squares. it was so different from anything else. heh.
   50. Morty Causa Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:16 PM (#4162359)
Yeah, it was genius to make Hackett, "the guy with the mouth full of marbles", the heavy. It would have been an almost enchanting experience to hear him give voice to that character.
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:20 PM (#4162362)
I used caps because the underline function doesn't work. I did not say that the committee went specifically after MAD, though (a) they went after EC Comics, which was MAD's publisher

which is different from what you inferred before. which others have pointed out. so you were mistaken.


Exactly where did I "infer" (or imply, or state) that congress was targeting MAD? They were going after what they saw as gratuitous violence and sex in comics, and MAD's publisher was one of the targets, but not MAD per se. But it's also clear that given the sort of images that MAD comics were printing (see the links in #47), MAD itself was going to have to change or suffer the consequences---which is exactly what it did.

(b) the style of humor in the magazine was markedly toned down to be more in line with the sensibilities of the mainstream. Whether you or I liked the result is neither here nor there.

(b) the style of humor in the magazine was markedly refined to be more in line with the sensibilities of readers whose sense of humor was more developed than nosepicking adolescents.

ftfy.


Yes, phred. You can't get any more cutting edge post-adolescent than that. It's at least twice as daring as The Family Circus.
   52. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:24 PM (#4162367)
I'm slowly making my way through MAD's back issues on PDF; I'm in 1955 now.

As I've said before, MAD stops being funny about the time you discover girls. Girls don't like MAD, so you gotta make a choice, and...
   53. The District Attorney Posted: June 20, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4162370)
That Mad magazine still exists is amazing.
You CLOD!!!
   54. Morty Causa Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4162401)
Everything's cool. Let's just all put on our "Down With Homework" T-shirts and chill.
   55. phredbird Posted: June 20, 2012 at 09:45 PM (#4162443)
whatever.

jolly can't stop being a philadelphia lawyer.

I used caps because the underline function doesn't work. I did not say that the committee went specifically after MAD, though (a) they went after EC Comics, which was MAD's publisher

which is different from what you inferred before. which others have pointed out. so you were mistaken.

Exactly where did I "infer" (or imply, or state) that congress was targeting MAD? They were going after what they saw as gratuitous violence and sex in comics, and MAD's publisher was one of the targets, but not MAD per se. But it's also clear that given the sort of images that MAD comics were printing (see the links in #47), MAD itself was going to have to change or suffer the consequences---which is exactly what it did.


my mistake, i expressed myself poorly. what you inferred was that mad changed because it had to because it was next after EC; that it was inevitable; that it was going to happen, as if you knew how events would transpire when you have only a guess; gonfalon has pointed out that there was more to it than that. and also offered a pretty convincing counter to your 'all comedians prefer early mad' comment, which, again, is something you could not possibly know.

Yes, phred. You can't get any more cutting edge post-adolescent than that. It's at least twice as daring as The Family Circus.


fine, a stupid one. that makes you right. if you think there wasn't dross in the early mad, your nostalgia is getting the better of you.
   56. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 10:18 PM (#4162474)
fine, a stupid one. that makes you right. if you think there wasn't dross in the early mad, your nostalgia is getting the better of you.

Of course there was, but there was far less of it. And that "stupid one" was drawn by an artist who remained with the magazine for 46 years, recycling the same dross every step of the way, as a quick glance at the titles of his 16 books of reprints will quickly reveal. He wouldn't have gotten past the front door in the older format, where at least whatever dross they published was unique rather than endlessly repetitive.

But anyway, it's obvious that I say tomato, and you say tomahto, or whatever. I don't think we're likely to convert each other or anyone else by keeping this up. I'd only invite anyone who isn't familiar with the comic book version to take a look for themselves and make up their own minds.
   57. depletion Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM (#4162497)
Andy, that "violence" linked picture is very mild compared to the comic book violence in other EC books at the time.
   58.   Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4162503)
The only anythings I recognize in this thread are the Simpsons references.

But, man, that plaque is really, really, harsh, insipid and out to lunch (and not humorous)
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM (#4162504)
Andy, that "violence" linked picture is very mild compared to the comic book violence in other EC books at the time.

You mean like this? (smile)

More to the point, the MAD comic book version of violence was also a much more obvious parody, but when was the last time you ran into any would be censors or congressmen who understood a concept that rarefied?

And BTW if anyone remembers Jack Davis (the artist of that "baseball game" page above), here's a slightly more recent example of what he's done. (Hint, hint.) Won't no Jawja congersmens be messing around with that one.

   60. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM (#4162536)
Andy, you can phrase or qualify your claim however you like, and it still won't line up with the facts. The 1954 Congressional hearing did not attack any comic's style of humor, and it didn't consider MAD at all. The only reason EC Comics even became a particular focus of the committee is because William Gaines naively asked that he be allowed to testify on behalf of the industry one week before the hearings started.

Congress didn't lay off later MAD because it realized how toothless and Dave Berg-y the magazine had become. The Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency was one of those political/media firestorms that sprout up and fade away almost as quickly, like Tipper Gore's Parents Music Resource Center, or the House hearings on Dotto and The $64,000 Question. The 1953-54 fuss had more to do with zip guns than with Bat-a-rangs. Congress hasn't thought about comic books in over 50 years because there's no political gain in it. (Estes Kefauver thought he would ride organized crime and comic books to become President someday.)

The resulting self-imposed Comics Code Authority barely alludes to humor, saying only that "ridicule" of religion and race is impermissable, and that "divorce shall not be treated humorously." That's it. As was the Congressional hearing before it, the Code was about two genres and two genres only: crime and horror. And it isn't as if EC Comics wasn't specifically targeted by the Code's drafters, who took the trouble to prohibit just two words from use in a title: "Horror" and "Terror." Not so coincidentally, EC's top-selling comics were "The Vault of Horror" and "The Crypt of Terror."

And don't go picking on Dave Berg. His bold and savage political commentary was decades ahead of its time!

Actually, Berg had done over 40 pieces for MAD before hitting upon his "Lighter Side of..." feature, several of which were canny about examining materialism and suburbia and American business. And even "The Lighter Side" included some biting humor for the first 8 or 10 years. (After that, though, well...) It's instructive to think of 1950s/60s Berg as a cartooning version of Alan King. As the middle class became less of a sociological phenomenon and more of an everyday circumstance, the humor that reflected it became less compelling.

With Berg taking up five pages of real estate in MAD for forty years, it's no wonder he's often the go-to example for people who want to dismiss the magazine as cornball. But MAD wasn't a five-page-long magazine. Here's another person who declared “the last time I remember MAD being funny was when I was 12”... until he took the trouble to read it.

For Morty: My Fair Ad-Man
   61. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: June 21, 2012 at 05:38 AM (#4162539)
That Mad magazine still exists is amazing.
The secret is in the Potrzebie.
   62. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 21, 2012 at 07:44 AM (#4162559)
The resulting self-imposed Comics Code Authority barely alludes to humor, saying only that "ridicule" of religion and race is impermissable, and that "divorce shall not be treated humorously." That's it.

7. Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gun play, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.


And don't go picking on Dave Berg. His bold and savage political commentary was decades ahead of its time!

I assume you're making that point tongue in cheek, unless you're seriously trying to argue that a book that gently satirizes Americans' dependence on material possessions is really foreseeing Abu Ghraib. This has to set the all-time BTF record for torturous attempts at comparison.

With Berg taking up five pages of real estate in MAD for forty [46, to be exact] years, it's no wonder he's often the go-to example for people who want to dismiss the magazine as cornball.

Yeah, how could giving an artist like that 2760 pages over the course of 46 years ever tell us anything about a magazine's style of humor?

Here's another person who declared “the last time I remember MAD being funny was when I was 12”... until he took the trouble to read it.

And I'll bet that he laughed even louder at the two Alfred E. Newman bathroom companion books and all their other bestselling collections.

Two bottom lines here:

----Whether out of fear of censorship or for understandable financial reasons, MAD magazine's style of humor was completely reigned in compared to its previous incarnation. If the comic book MAD was Itchy and Scratchy (which is actually a very apt comparison), the magazine version has been one elongated Simpsons celebrity-centered segment.

----Taste in humor is largely subjective, and isn't likely to be changed by argument.

But BTW since you're a fan of MAD's current version, here's a cover we can all agree is spot on. I'm surprised you didn't dig that one out, as I would've thought you'd think it'd be the quickest road to my conversion. I only hope it doesn't cause you to cancel your lifetime subscription. (smile)



   63. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 21, 2012 at 09:10 AM (#4162600)
Gonfalon, you've been awesome in this thread. Thanks for your contributions. And Andy, keep posting that picture of a witch stomping on some grapes. Someone will be convinced, sooner or later.
   64. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 21, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4162618)
Yeah, how could giving an artist like that 2760 pages over the course of 46 years ever tell us anything about a magazine's style of humor?


Similarly, the continuing, long-term existence & employment of John Sterling & Suzyn Waldman tells us all we need to know about the Yankees' approach to ... everything.

No wonder you join so many of the rest of us in hating that team with a white-hot passion.



   65. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 21, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4162632)
Yeah, how could giving an artist like that 2760 pages over the course of 46 years ever tell us anything about a magazine's style of humor?

Similarly, the continuing, long-term existence & employment of John Sterling & Suzyn Waldman tells us all we need to know about the Yankees' approach to ... everything.

No wonder you join so many of the rest of us in hating that team with a white-hot passion.


Actually that does tell us a lot more about "the Yankees' approach to ... everything" than this lifelong Yankee fan would sometimes like to admit. But when you root for the uniform you take the good with the bad. That's obviously how many people here view MAD magazine, and more power to them, though I'd still like to know Gonfalon's reaction to that "Baseball's Giant Fraud" cover.
   66. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 21, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4162654)
Gonfalon, you've been awesome in this thread. Thanks for your contributions.


This.

When I finally write my Broadway musical based on Seduction of the Innocent, the Senate's comics hearing & the attendant hysteria, I'm counting on you as a collaborator.
   67. tshipman Posted: June 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM (#4162662)
I'm assuming that the people who are gushing over Cracked.com have just never been to McSweeney's Internet Tendencies.
   68. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4162669)
A less insulting way to phrase that would have been "If you like Cracked.com, you might like the vaguely similar website McSweeney's Internet Tendencies".
   69. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 21, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4162681)
When I finally write my Broadway musical based on Seduction of the Innocent, the Senate's comics hearing & the attendant hysteria, I'm counting on you as a collaborator.

You should write that musical, and in your program you should include pp. 399-400 of the book (scroll down to view), which lists the names of nearly 100 publishers that Wertham cites. Unfortunately Rinehart & Co. excised those pages from nearly every copy of the book for fear of lawsuits**, including the first edition copy I've got in front of me. Fans of Archie Comics will be pleased to see that they made the honor roll, though since the book doesn't have an index I'm not sure where or why it's mentioned. (The 16 pages of illustrations don't show the famous manage a trois with Archie, Betty and Veronica.)

**In Instant Gratification #1, 1979, Dr. Wertham said,

One of the many things I learned after Seduction of the Innocent was published was the enormous power of the distributor. When SotI was first published I quickly received a very angry letter -- perhaps the angriest letter I ever received -- saying, "How could you sell a mutilated book!" I didn't even know what he was talking about. I hadn't even looked carefully at my own copy. You see, I had quite a bit of legal advice on SotI. The book was absolutely libel-proof. But apparently Mr. Rinehart, the publisher, was threatened by the distributors who said that Rinehart's books would be boycotted. As a compromise at the last moment and without my knowledge, he took out the bibliography.
   70. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 21, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4162692)
I remember reading about that. Unfortunately, I didn't know about it at the time I read the public library's copy when I was in high school, so I don't recall if the listing was included or not. (I know the illustrations were; apparently, quite a few copies out there are missing them, thanks to readers rather than the publisher.)
   71. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 21, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4162699)
From Wertham's comment it looks as if even his own copy was excised, and he almost certainly would have received one of the first copies off the press. I had about half a dozen copies of that book in my shop over 23 years, and I think only one of them had the bibliography. Obviously that's the copy I should've taken home. Between the publisher and Fans With Scissors, I can't imagine that any library copies would have ever been unclipped.
   72. Morty Causa Posted: June 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4162702)
For Morty: My Fair Ad-Man

Hey, thanks. That's wonderful artwork. I had forgotten that Charles Laughton makes an appearance--and he, too, is caricatured perfectly.

EDIT: and Dean Martin, too.
   73. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: June 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4162703)
an ocarina-focused website.

is that even legal?

MAD was a very important part of my adolescence. It was one of those things that I just hid from my parents -- they were very restrictive (mainly dad) and would make us come up with logical reasons why we should do something. When my two older sisters (16 and 14) and I (12) wanted to chip in on Meet The Beatles, he argued with us over several dinners before we basically said we were going to buy it anyway. He said they'd never last -- and in a way he was right, they didn't last the decade. :) He was a man for whom music died when Glenn Miller died in a plane crash. Where was Don McLean when he needed him?


I read MAD religiously into my 20s. When my one son picked up on it when he was 12 or so, I would read his. Of course it wasn't as good as my youth. :) My wife is a rare bird, she liked/s MAD, I'm guessing influenced by her older brother.
   74. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4162709)
With Berg taking up five pages of real estate in MAD for forty [46, to be exact] years

If you're going to make corrections, be correct. "The Lighter Side" debuted in late 1961, and ran until 2002. The entire preceding paragraph pointed out that Dave Berg did a lot of MAD articles before that... unexpectedly, about 5 years' worth.

7. Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gun play, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.

Yes, that's exactly what the 83rd Congress convened to stop: a guy jumping up and down on a superhero until grapes come out. Don't forget the next panel, where he kicks her for a field goal. Gruesome images like those must have filled juvenile delinquents with both horror AND terror. But at least the ending, where Wonder Woman is a battered wife, trapped raising babies and cooking dinners, doesn't treat divorce humorously.

The Senators may have spent the entirety of the hearing displaying and talking about other comic books, but by the twinkle in their eyes, you can tell they were secretly thinking about MAD.

Your link certainly shows the kind of absurd, body-mangling comedic violence that the de-balled MAD Magazine never dared to publish again. Who was that Don Martin guy? Spy vs. Who?

And I'll bet that he laughed even louder at the two Alfred E. Newman bathroom companion books and all their other bestselling collections.

Is this even a point? The original 23 issues of MAD have been reprinted and re-reprinted and re-re-reprinted and re-re-re-re-re-re-re-reprinted. Which numbered reprint turned the comic book's humor worthless?

Two bottom lines here:
----Whether out of fear of censorship or for understandable financial reasons, MAD magazine's style of humor was completely reigned in compared to its previous incarnation. If the comic book MAD was Itchy and Scratchy (which is actually a very apt comparison), the magazine version has been one elongated Simpsons celebrity-centered segment.


Yes, MAD was never so cowed by censorship as at the exact moment they permanently removed themselves from censorship. You might try actually demonstrating this theory, rather than just re-re-repeating it in the lamest tradition of MAD bathroom companion books.

The idea that 100.0% of MAD's best work, or funniest work, or most daring/shocking/robust/whatever your self-defining definition is work was entirely produced in a 3-year window isn't "largely subjective," it's cheerfully ignorant. That you think the one-note "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons (a hilarious note, but one note nonetheless) are a "very apt" comparison for Kurtzman & Co.'s multi-layered work suggests you haven't read even your favorite issues all that closely. Where you see a guy jumping up and down in a brutally comic way, other readers see a guy jumping up and down, brutally and comically, within the context of feminist suppression and deconstructed superhero tropes.

Here's another anemic sop for the 12-year-olds from MAD's uninterrupted "Simpsons" celebrity cameo decline.
   75. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4162713)
And don't go picking on Dave Berg. His bold and savage political commentary was decades ahead of its time!

I assume you're making that point tongue in cheek, unless you're seriously trying to argue that a book that gently satirizes Americans' dependence on material possessions is really foreseeing Abu Ghraib. This has to set the all-time BTF record for torturous attempts at comparison.


Andy, you have to ask? For a guy like you, who has the acumen to perceive exactly what MAD’s staffers were fearing and commercially strategizing 55 years ago, figuring out my intent should be child’s play. You’re the humor expert here-- you tell me. ;)

As for your other question...
I'd still like to know Gonfalon's reaction to that "Baseball's Giant Fraud" cover.

The joke is nonexistent. It’s just comedic exaggeration: “Hey, famous guy took steroids, so we drew him big with lots of needles.” But, the drawing is funny. Which means yes, I lke the cover all right, but I’m unimpressed by it.

Magazine covers are hard, and for comedy publications, they’re REAL hard. Both MAD and the Lampoon have much worse batting averages for their covers than for their contents. Making a highly unscientific but sincere estimate, I’d say that the Lampoon had about 8 or 9 really great covers, and that MAD has had about 30. To be clear, I’m talking mostly ideas and humor here; both magazines had lots of other covers that worked as nice visuals but not much beyond that... like the Bonds cover. They’re fine, they’re functional, they’re covers. To me, this was a baseball cover that was equally nice-looking, but also had a point to it.

But don’t go by me. If you have time to kill, judge them for yourself.

MAD has done better steroid/Bonds/Clemens/etc. material inside its pages over the years. You may recall my citing MAD in previous BTF threads, for jokes about pro athletes using steroids that they'd published way, way back in the innocent 1980s when “no one could have known™."
   76. Morty Causa Posted: June 21, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4162747)
Want to note, too, that I appreciate Gonfalon's and Jolly's link. I like it when people have sources for what they hold. Thanks.
   77. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 22, 2012 at 06:13 AM (#4163397)
Andy wrote on a different thread that he’d been “slammed from pillar to post” on this thread. That was not my intention... I just wanted to slam him from pillar to a little bit past the pillar. Actually, I didn’t want to slam him at all. Nor his preference for the original Kurtzman comic, which is not an unusual or unique opinion.

My objection was that each time I supplied opposing facts about the magazine’s origins and subsequent development, Andy would come back saying, yes, but it still happened anyway. And then he’d do something like cite Dave Berg as the epitome of what MAD became. Berg did about 1% of MAD’s total output, so saying he is the magazine is like saying that every season since St. Louis joined the National League, their infielders have done backflips.

Well, anyway, my counterpoints became a bit over-thorough and snide, and Andy’s passing remark on the other thread made me feel badly. Andy is a good guy and a good poster and one of the reasons I enjoy this site, and I do not want to leave the smallest impression that I have ever felt otherwise.
   78. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 22, 2012 at 06:47 AM (#4163407)
Gonfalon, when I said I was "slammed from pillar to post" I was saying that tongue in cheek, and I was only referring to the fact that nobody here was agreeing with my main point about the radical change in MAD's sensibility after the switch to the magazine format. The reference was to the quantity of the responses, not the tone.

I still don't agree with the idea that MAD is some sort of cutting edge of humor, in spite of the fact that you've cited a few good counterexamples. And I don't see how Dave Berg's 5 pages per issue for 48 years amounts to "1%" of the magazine, unless MAD has gotten a whole lot bigger since I stopped even glancing at it on the newsstand sometime in the 60's. But just as you've got your inclinations to snark, so do I, and I can't pretend that I've been entirely innocent here with my cracks about 12 year olds and Jay Leno---the 12 year olds are fair game, but the Leno part was almost as far below the belt as Hitler.

And I should also note my appreciation for your provision of a bunch of interesting links, especially those to the covers. For the record, if I were ranking them on a quality basis, I'd put the first year of MAD comics covers at the top (easily), the first 3 or 4 years of the National Lampoon second, the rest of the MAD comics and the next couple of years of the Lampoon third, and the remaining years of both MAD and the Lampoon dead last. There are a scattering of exceptions to this, but not all that many.

I hadn't thought about this before, but one of the things that detracts from the MAD magazine covers is their "tradition" of incorporating Alfred E. Newman into them every month. I liked it much better when the artists weren't forced to do that, since I place a big premium on originality. For the same reason, the National Lampoon dropped way off when they began including a sex theme into virtually every cover, a move that was obviously based on some beancounter's market research into their target audience. To me the best humor magazines reflect the tastes and sensibilities of a handful of comic geniuses, not some goddam focus group's preferences. I can understand the financial reasoning behind that sort of crap, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
   79. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 22, 2012 at 07:34 AM (#4163421)
It may amuse you to learn that MAD's all-time highest-selling issue is this one, which doesn't show Neuman's face at all.

Stat Chat: If my scan fu is strong, Berg's "Lighter Side" ran from issue #66 to #423, skipping 23 issues along the way. That's 335 installments, and not all were 5 pages, but let's go with 5. That's 1,675 pages; you had his total as more than a thousand more, presumably because you were calculating 46 years at 12 issues a year, instead of 41 years at (mostly) 8 issues a year. Anyhow, MAD is coming up on 25,000 pages, so now that I've done the actual math I see that my tossed-off estimate was way wrong, too. It's over 6% for the life of the publication, not 1%... and 10% if you only consider the period Berg was contributing. So I'm changing my backflip baseball analogy; Dave Berg wasn't Ozzie Smith, but he was the DH.

"The Lighter Side" was conspicuously different in tone from the rest of MAD, though, especially later on. Which has to be the reason it was enduringly popular with so many, and also the reason why it was actively scorned by so many others. It's incorrect to use Berg as the emblem of what MAD Magazine was, but it's like if he were Freddie the Freeloader, or Reginald van Gleason. If those recurring characters rubbed you the wrong way, you were stuck, because you weren't going to escape them.

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