Jim Siergey: Mad Love

July 5th, 2019

Word on the street is that MAD Magazine, after sixty seven years, is ceasing publication.

MAD began as a comic book that satirized other comic strips and in the late 1950s transmogrified into a monthly magazine of satire and humor. One of its unique qualities was that it accepted no advertising, other than its own.

But it will be no more. Perhaps its childish satire could not compete with the childish satire that has become reality.

More likely, it’s reasons for not publishing new material is business-related. That’s usually the case.

Actually, further word on the street is that MAD will continue to publish but its contents will be previously published material. It seems to me that that approach would be narrowing its audience to that of Nostalgiateers. (I think I just made up that word. Perhaps I should trademark it?)

Ah, but what do I know?  Business is all a bunch of furshlugginer potzrebie to me.

It’s been quite while since I’ve seen a copy of MAD. Despite the fact that I’m familiar with and admire the work of a lot of the artists who contribute to the recent MAD, as opposed to the original usual gang of idiots, I just haven’t kept up with it.

When I was a kid in the early ‘60s, copies of MAD Magazine was something you kept hid from your parents. It was strictly under the mattress material. Its humor was a bit too subversive for the generation that came to parenthood in the ‘50s. Questioning authority and the status quo was a capital N no-no.


Required reading…


But the MAD that I fell in love with and was most influenced by were the paperback reprints of its comic book days. The original MAD comics were written by Harvey Kurtzman and the group of cartoonists he had on hand to illustrate his satirical stories were all Hall of Famers; Jack Davis, Will Elder, Wally Wood and John Severin, just to name a few. I never saw the original color comics until many years later.

The comics reprinted in the paperback books were in black and white and you had to turn the book sideways to read it as the panels were printed two (or so) to a page. The paperbacks had titles such as Inside Mad, The Mad Reader, Bedside Mad, Son of Mad, and the like.

“Chicken fat” is a term used to describe cartoon panels that were chock full of STUFF! The aforementioned stuff that filled these panels were dubbed “eyeball kicks”, little extra gags, jokes and puns that were not always related to the story at hand were found littered throughout. Those MAD comics were stuffed full of chicken fat. It was a feast for the eyes.

MAD and later, National Lampoon were two publications that helped corrupt the minds of two generations with their take-no-prisoners approach to pointing out the holes in the fabric of “accepted behavior”.

I don’t know what’s corrupting minds these days, Sponge Bob Square Pants, perhaps?

But fear not! There is a quarterly humor magazine that can be lumped with MAD and Lampoon and, in fact, contains several contributors who worked on those zines. It is called The American Bystander and I must disclose that I am also one of the contributors, so you should take what I say with a grain of salt as I am a tad biased.

It is an excellent publication but you don’t have to take my word for it. In fact, you don’t have to take or do anything. It’s still a free country. But you can find out about it yourself by subscribing to it via Patreon. (It’s a computer thing)

Okay, the unexpected advertisement is over. Let us doff our fedoras, baseball caps and propeller beanies in respect to MAD. It kept us from the straight and narrow.

Say it loud and say it proud: “What, me worry?”



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