Hot Pursuit

My 4th of July got off to an unhappy start when I learned that MAD Magazine will cease publication after 67 years. The history of MAD, including its recent struggles, is a long and convoluted affair that I won’t address here, but the talented caricaturist Tom Richmond, a modern-era contributor to MAD, writes at length about the end of the MADness. I often get asked what cartoonists and comics influenced me when I was young. Maybe I tend to think of individuals when I am asked that question, because I always mention Bill Mauldin, Charles Schulz, Mort Walker and others who were in their heyday when I was growing up. For some reason, I seldom think to mention MAD Magazine, although no thing and no one had more influence on my young sensibilities as a humorist than MAD. It wasn’t just the artists, all of whom I admired. It was the chutzpah of the thing. It’s probably where I learned the word “chutzpah.” It was not a dirty magazine, but it was, probably, my only exposure to humor outside highly censored television comedy and the ridiculously sanitized newspaper comics and other “approved” comic books. It was sophisticated and grown-up, although it paraded as puerile and shallow. True, I have not read a copy of MAD in years, but I’m saddened by this loss of yet another print institution. It was my greatest influence as an artist, growing up.

28 thoughts on “Hot Pursuit”

  1. Even in the farmlands of Kansas, “What Me Worry” was a catch phrase for a long, long time before today’s social media makes up a new phrase daily. I thank my Mom for letting me see a little of the world outside the farm.

  2. Jimmy, this story seems to imply that Mad isn’t stopping completely, but only going forward reprinting old material and being distributed through subscription and comic shop sales. Whether that will save it, I don’t know. And yes, that was my earliest exposure to a humor magazine too. https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/mad-magazine-to-largely-stop-publishing-new-content-will-no-longer-be-on-newsstands

    Other than this, I hope you have a happy and safe 4th.

  3. MAD Magazine, TW3, Monty Python, and Laugh In gave me a warped satirical sense of humor in my formative years, a trait that did not necessarily serve me well in my adult working career. The great thing about MAD was that in its early years, the writers skewered all sides of the political spectrum without the hate that permeates current discourse. As I still like Don Martin’s work, Mom was right when she said MAD Magazine would rot my brain.

  4. I read Mad quite often as a kid and in the 90’s I got a subscription as a Christmas present. However I felt that the satire really went downhill. I’m not sure if I remember why, but I think that it got a little raunchier. I loved the fold-ins and Dave Berg. I think that I even got a book with his “Best of” But it is definitely a sign of the times in publishing. I was looking for a review of my wife’s latest book the week that it was released and I found a copy of the book. Unauthorized and free. It makes you wonder why anybody even bothers to write.

  5. I seem to recall that MAD depicted some pretty hot-looking babes for the times (late-fifties).
    Of course, I read it only for the humorous dialog.

  6. I loved Mad, too, for the same reasons you did. An important part of my childhood and young adulthood. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ll miss it because I haven’t read it in, I’d estimate, 20-plus years. I still have a few copies lying around from the good old days.

  7. There was a period during my tween & teen years where I also devoured every morsel of MAD magazine. It was the first publication that I got a subscription for. Such clever and off-the-wall humor. Too bad it’s fizzling out. As far as the fact that the Declaration of Independence – which is flawed – came together in a matter of DAYS – and that everyone eventually agreed to it – within DAYS! Well…….that could never happen today!! There is no collaboration. No bipartisanship. Nothing gets done. Our country is doomed if the various factions can’t agree to some sensible and practical middle ground measures for just about any topic you’d like to pick. A sobering thought on the anniversary of the birth of our nation.

  8. We seem to be selling a number of swimsuits today.
    “Helping Keep Local Beaches Stocked With 85% to 95% Naked Females Since 2018”
    I did the maths.

  9. I read Mad as a comic – before they had to become a Magazine because
    of the “Legion Of Decency”
    .
    I was amazed that my father enjoyed MAD – he was OLD, he was 40! 🙂

  10. Most of the bikinis we’re selling today are, unsurprisingly, red, white and blue in color. We may be responsible for some very patriotic beaches, as well. “Show your colors, ladies!” 😀

  11. Ghost, depending on the conditions, the ladies could well be red, white and blue without the patriotic swimwear. Red from sunburn, white where the sun didn’t reach, and blue if the water’s not that warm.

  12. Just realized I was 8 years old when I began reading Mad. What me worry?

    I loved it for the scathing satire but the art inspired me. I remember trying to draw in the distinctive Mad style. I wanted to be a cartoonist and plagiarized Charlie Brown and Mad on our school paper.

    Mad dying pushed me over the edge last night. All things mortal.

  13. Thanks for the word, Jimmy. Otherwise, I would not have heard about it.

    I was such a Mad-o-phile as a kid that I also bought every paperback they published.

  14. “Arlo and Janis” is often accused of having a more adult slant than most newspaper strips, that it can be suggestive, even borderline risqué at times. And now we learn that MAD Magazine may have been a formative influence on its strip’s creator. Well, MAD was where I got my first taste of porno as a kid, and by ‘porno’, I mean I saw naked human butts there on occasion – even female ones. If Mad parodied a 1960’s movie that had some degree of nudity in it, they might include a cartooned glimpse of it in their mag. They even ran an article about what it might be like if nudity-in-movies spread to nudity-in-comic-strips. Not only did the world NOT end, it actually giggled for a while, and then went on with itself as usual. I’d like to think it prepared me to be more tolerant in some areas of adult behavior. I’d certainly wish that for everyone here!

  15. It wasn’t dirty, but its comedy was subversive. Not National Lam-ooo subversive, but subversive.

    Another one bites the dust.

  16. We went to the movie “Yesterday”, which the “serious critics” panned, but my wife and I suspended belief and quite enjoyed. I won’t give away the spoiler. I learned before the movie, but promised my wife that I would not. It really was a satisfying movie. Looking at the trailers for some of the upcoming movies, I can see that it will be a while before I return. As a matter of fact, these rotten movies might have led to Mad Magazine to it’s demise.

    Speaking of spoilers, when we saw the Star Wars sequel, I did not bother to look them up. I never cared for the three “prequels” but loved watching Harrison Ford in the first sequel. I even turned to my wife and said “Now I know what I loved about Star Wars; Harrison Ford!” Then BAM, he plunges to his death! I nearly walked out of the movie.

  17. I re- subscribed to MAD last year after about a 10 year hiatus. It was not the same…. but still funny at times. I just got a renewal notice….glad I didn’t send it in, but it’s sad to see it end.

  18. I started reading Mad magazine in, probably, 1960. It gave a ten-year-old kid a view of the world that was unavailable elsewhere — in that it was ostensibly written for “us” but was most decidedly aimed at punching holes in myths and sacred cows. Its send-up of movies and commercials struck an especially respondent chord. Mostly, it championed the notion that it was OK to be weird. I took that to heart. I outgrew the magazine before I was 15, but still look back on it with fondness, and have several of its soft-cover collections.

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