The tough times in the print business have now hit the last remaining satire magazine published in the United States, MAD Magazine. Starting with issue #500, which is currently available at many newsstands, MAD will cut back from being a monthly magazine with 48 pages selling for $4.99 to becoming a quarterly publication with 56 pages selling for $5.99. Two other MAD publications, MAD FOR KIDS and MAD CLASSICS are being dropped, and some staffers at MAD are being laid off by the owner of MAD, AOL Time Warner.
Part of the problem with less of a presence of MAD at newsstands due to the shorter publication schedule may only encourage some distributors or newsstands to drop MAD altogether, putting MAD sales into a tailspin. The fact of the matter is that this cannot possiby be good news for this very influential satire magazine that has existed since the 1950's.
MAD has many competitors over the past decades including CRACKED, SICK, CRAZY, HARPOON(later known as APPLE PIE) and a few other minor publications. NATIONAL LAMPOON once made a serious attempt to appeal to an older audience of readers of satire magazines, and was really at it's peak during the 1970's as a great satire magazine. CRACKED fell into hard times with distribution problems and an attempt to revive the magazine sadly fell flat. CRACKED managed to continue a great 1950's style of cartooning until the short-lived new version came out. CRACKED was also a pretty good competitor for MAD all during the late 50's into the 70's.
Sadly for MAD is the news that FOX has cancelled the MAD TV show as well. In the past 14 seasons, MAD TV managed some very effective satires and parody bits. And some decent stars such as Nicole Sullivan have emerged from the show.
MAD Magazine is a great institution that deserves to live on. When I was just a kid around 1959 to 1963, my parents used to give me a 25cents allowance to spend as I see fit. I usually would opt for buying a MAD Magazine rather than buy two 10cent comic books and a 5cent candy bar. MAD Magazine taught me to read at 4 and five years old. I had no problem blowing my whole allowance wad on this great magazine that deserves to live on for future generations. Society needs more than just SATAURDAY NIGHT LIVE as a vehicle for parody and satire. MAD is too good to disappear, but it certainly appears to be living on life support right now. How long AOL Time Warner will continue to stand by a number of troubled publications like MAD is a good question. But the recession has hit many print publications pretty hard in recent times, leaving great newspapers and magazines hanging on for dear life.
MAD Magazine has always had a very liberal leaning political stance, and always effectively used satire to make it's points against any of it's intended targets. MAD has become an effective teacher for me, teaching me to question authority, as well as to question the absurdity of both smoking and alcohol abuse. For a child growing up in the late 50's and early 60's, MAD was a major part of my life, and nearly a religious experience. I always admired the rebel stance of long haired and bearded editor William Gaines, who MAD Magazine jokingly and lovingly claims hasn't bothered to show up much at the office since his death in the 1990's.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!