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MAD Magazine Hit By The Recession

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. mad hopeless.jpg

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!

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Rating: 3/5 (2 votes cast)

Comments (6)

Mac Lorry:
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.

That explains their decline. With democrats in control of the government they have lost the source of most of their material. That combined with the general decline of printed media may yet do them in. They really need Republicans to come back strong in 2010 and 2012 to survive (as does the nation).


MAD Magazine used to be pretty funny - but they were parodying pop culture and literature that kids had to grind through in school.

It was easy to spoof disco. But how do you spoof rap? Who would get the parody of "The Raven" by E.A.Poe?


The Spaniel

Once upon a midnight cautious while I pondered weak and nauseous
Over many an advertising copy that I wrote [sic] for Macy's store.
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of someone loudly rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"Tis some client there," I muttered. Only this and nothing more.

Then I felt my terror worsen, for my guest was not a person.
In there stepped a cocker spaniel, naturally I jumped in fear.
Tried to climb an oaken panel, ripping there my new grey flannel
But the spaniel only stood there, speaking out with voice so clear
Speaking out like Jack Lescoulie in a voice both loud and clear.
Quoth the spaniel, "Drink Blatz beer."

How I marvelled this ungainly dog that did commercials plainly
Thoughts of fortunes I could make now make me shake down to my knees.
But the spaniel set me grieving then by turning tail and leaving
Chasing him along the hallway, crying out, "Stay with me me please!"
Chasing him along the hallway, crying out, "Stay with me please!"
Quoth the spaniel, "Eat Kraft Cheese."


Ah, MAD - you'll be missed...

Paul Hooson:

Two excellent observations here, Mac and JLawson. That's why I always appreciate your thoughts here. You probably hit the nail on the head with liberal leaning MAD in decline with the Democrats in power, so that MAD loses most of it's targets for satire. A fellow like Richard Nixon or George Bush were probably great fields of material for MAD political satire, although Richard Nixon was the only president ever credited as having written an article for MAD, which is a strange little known fact.

By the way, I really miss the MAD songs parodies such as, "It's A Gas", which predated Weird Al by many years. Both MAD and Weird Al seemed to inspire by own outrageous song parodies I used to perform or funny songs I wrote. At any rate, Frank Zappa's managers enjoyed my material enough that we preformed with his band for a show once before. Some old 1960's copies of MAD included a record in the 50 cent compilation editions. But the MAD Zeppelin and other items were pretty cool too.

Probably, with the decline of print media, and kids not really drawn to MAD like I was as a kid, have really hurt the magazine. But CRACKED was always a huge favorite of mine as well, and was less political than MAD. At one time it seemed like MAD then PLAYBOY were the two most influential magazines for many young guys, then both seemed to lose clout in society with declining sales and modernizing culture.

JLawson, thanks so much for reminding what a milestone that parody of The Raven was in MAD. It was great writing like that which once made MAD one of the greatest publications in American print history. MAD always seemed to have a wider appeal than the more subtle and stuffy British PUNCH by using cartoons to make it's point, much like a large version of the editorial page cartoon would achieve. Instead of newspapers offering just one editorial cartoon, MAD was all editorial cartoons.

MAD seemed to dead-on offer some important observations missed by most in society. Whether MAD recovers from this economy mess as well as decline in the print media remains to be seen. But my best guess is that important institution is in a critical tailspin without much hope of recovery. Like the death of CRACKED Magazine, the loss of MAD would be a real heart-breaker to me.


Shame. Al Feldstein and Sergio Aragones were at the Baltimore Comic-con in 2007. It was a real treat to sit in on their panel and listen to their early days at MAD and their experiences.

Paul Hooson:

Hello John. Indeed, Al Feldstein and Sergio Aragones are great comic icons. Both are two of the greatest talents ever in the comic world. Great men both. You were indeed very lucky to be able to hear these two legends describe their experiences working for one of the greatest publications in American print history.

Peter F.:

What, Me Worry?

They are now....


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