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Thursday, July 04, 2019 

Mad magazine comes to an end after nearly 70 years

The famous parody magazine with recognizable mascot Alfred E. Neuman and type-set word balloons is being put to rest after almost 7 decades:
Mad Magazine’s gap-toothed mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, always said, “What? Me Worry?” and now there is really nothing left to trouble him, as the iconoclastic humor magazine announced it is shutting down after nearly 70 years of publication.

The magazine said Wednesday that its next issue would no longer be available on newsstands and would only be sold to subscribers, and that subsequent issues would feature only previously published content.
If there is to be new content, it'll be limited to annual specials. I suppose the reason why the magazine's faded away wasn't just because they were going stale humor-wise, but also because today's Hollywood leaves little or nothing to write a successful satire about. Some of the most memorable to me were their early Star Wars parodies ("Star Roars", "Star Bores: The Empire Strikes Out", and "Star Bores: The Rehash of the Je-Ti"). And, lest I forget, it's sadly and entirely possible they're caving to social justice mentality that's injured the comedy scene so badly. In any case, with the way today's movie industry is plummeting merit-wise, that's why they may not have much to parody anymore anyway. It's sad, but that's what happens when a whole industry loses creativity for the sake of political agendas. As a result, don't be surprised if Mad's contributors couldn't find enough to lampoon without sinking too far into agendas themselves.

Historically, Mad also has the distinction of selling more copies of their very magazine than most comics ever have, as this NPR article notes:
At MAD's peak in the early 1970s, more than 2 million people subscribed to it, both for its pungent political humor and deeply adolescent jokes.

In 2017, that number had reportedly dropped to 140,000.
Well that's still more in some ways than countless other comic books actually sell now. To be sure, Mad did make mistakes along the way to their eventual demise, though their switch to color in the past 2 decades was decidedly okay. At the end of the article, however, it does speak of one possible mistake they made of recent, before shutting down:
After issue No. 10 this fall, there will no longer be new content, except for end-of-year specials which will be all new. Starting with issue No. 11, the magazine will feature classic, best-of and nostalgic content, repackaged with new covers.
If you're not sure, Mad apparently followed one of comicdom's most ill-advised examples, the relaunching with a new Numero Uno, for ongoing series. I realize Mad's resorting to this gimmick (and Volume Two) was probably just meant as a well-meaning joke, but to me, it seems like a big mistake that could be seen more as validating a disastrous business model that hasn't helped Marvel and DC one bit. Too bad.

I enjoyed much of Mad years before, so it certainly is a shame to see them go. But I realize the quality of their satires was surely on the decline, so it's probably best to end the magazine on the best note possible.

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I guess it's kind of hard to do a satire magazine when the only acceptable subject of ridicule is Trump.

What made Mad such an impeccable bastion of parody and satire for it's first 50 years was it's refusal to be beholden to any one or any corporation. That changed when DC took the reins and started accepting ads, and started adhering to a PC agenda.

Reprinting the older (better) stuff is a great idea, as long as they don't offend anyone, I guess.

Well, it seemed to have lost a lot of steam ever since Bill Gaines died. Even before the amount of targets to be ridiculed grew smaller, its jokes were getting staler.

Comedy in a nutshell.

Sure, they could make fun of straight white men, but the people open to doing that have no sense of humor, generally speaking.


It's not just Mad, it's not just comics, the medium that was once known for the popularity of humor within it, it is humor, in general, that is becoming less popular.


Don't you know that humor is for bigots? If you make a joke about someone less fortunate than you, then you're a privileged asshole.

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"Don't you know that humor is for bigots? If you make a joke about someone less fortunate than you, then you're a privileged asshole."


I would have said bully, but asshole is an accurate description too. Making fun of people who are your equals is one thing; making fun of people who are smaller and weaker than you are is another.

"I would have said bully, but asshole is an accurate description too. Making fun of people who are your equals is one thing; making fun of people who are smaller and weaker than you are is another. "

The popular mantra and ideal from the last 50+ years is that we're all equal. Except that very recently, we're not, and some groups are not allowed to poke fun at others.

Go back and watch reruns of Seinfeld, and you will be shocked that it's still allowed to play. Their motto was "If you're going to offend, offend everyone."

You may notice it was very funny.

"The popular mantra and ideal from the last 50+ years is that we're all equal. Except that very recently, we're not, and some groups are not allowed to poke fun at others."

Make that the popular ideal of the last 250 years! You know, since the American Revolution?

By not allowed, I think you mean 'if I do, some people will disagree with me and think I am a bully just because I am making fun of someone weaker than me". No-one is actually stopping anyone from poking fun at others. It may have become socially unacceptable, but that does not mean that it is not allowed. It has always been the case that it is frowned on when some groups poke fun at others; it is just the names of the groups that have changed.

Can't say I've seen much of Mad Magazine other than The Simpsons making reference to them a few times. Still, shame that it's going out of business.

BTW, Avi? Think you can do a blog entry about Halle Bailey being cast as Ariel in the upcoming The Little Mermaid remake that's being made by Lin Manuel Miranda? They did end up doing some of the same crap that Marvel's done with some of its characters by changing their ethnicities for no real reason other than virtue signaling, and since Ariel was technically a Marvel Comics character thanks to Disney licensing Marvel to do comic book stories based on her as well as other Disney properties, it's somewhat relevant to this blog.

I'll see if I can write something about it. Thanks for asking.

"I guess it's kind of hard to do a satire magazine when the only acceptable subject of ridicule is Trump."

It is. The guy is so absurd to begin with, how do you caricature him?

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