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it's a World, World, World, World MAD 
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above: a contemporary MAD cover; as if you ever doubted that!

I first encountered MAD Magazine in early 1971, and although I was intruiged by much of the contents of this impressive-but-bewildering USA import satire mag, I kept returning to it [this one solitary copy, which I only just re-located this very week, a staggering 41 years later] despite the fact that it's intentions appeared a complete mystery.

In 1971, I was very much hooked on unpretentious UK comics humour, of the SPARKY/BEANO/COR!! variety, and MAD looked beamed in from another planet in comparison: it's hard-hitting satire and disrespect for authority went clean over my then-young noggin, nevertheless, I knew that this mag had something: absolute ace cartoons for a kick-off, especially Prohias' SPY versus SPY, an extremely aggressive, sadistically-violent 'uber-slapstick' piece.


MAD was remarkable inasmuch that this was the first time I ever saw cartoon characters bleed or indeed torn limb-from-limb, [Beano caught up with this aspect a decade or three later] and I instinctively knew this mag was aimed more at 'adults'. It also contained absolutely sterling caricature portraits and biting, stinging satire against media celebrities and politicians.


This one 1971 copy was the only time I actually examined the magazine in detail for about another 15 years: nevertheless, many MAD reprints [in small paperback form] festooned many a city bookshop of the 70s and 80s, and I often flicked through them:


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above: the British variation of Son of Mad paperback



MAD often returned to my thoughts, and it certainly seemed head-and-shoulders above it's nearest UK equivalent: the satire mag PUNCH, which although sharing a similar satirical outlook, seemed much less exuberant and entertaining than the no-holds-barred MAD, which made Punch seem stuffy, restrained and relegated to the dentist's waiting room in comparison.

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Last edited by ISPYSHHHGUY on Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:54 pm
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MAD of course is also reknowned for featuring the manically delightful contorted surrealism of DON MARTIN, whose work graced the magazine's pages for over 30 years [he departed in a dispute over money]:

Martin is often dubbed 'Mad's Maddest Artist, and it's easy to see why:

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Teriffic stuff, although his style of cartooning took a couple of years to mature into the instantly-recognizable state most aficiandos recognize today.......


I just recently forked out for the first 53 years of MAD Magazine [yes, that's right: Fifty-Three Years! which are available on official dvd-rom, which covers [seemingly] the entire content of the years 1952-2005. Unlike the dearth of unavailable-officially-on-disc UK comics equivalents, MAD can, for the pure enthusiast, be studied in detail from the loving comfort of your home computer.


The first 24 or so issues were in fact a 'lowly' comic, put out of course by the controversial E.C. Comics division, whose Tales from the Crypt and other offerings were earmarked for unprecedented bile by the 'moralists' of the day, who declared these comics the worst abomination inflicted upon the planet since the dark days of the Third Reich.


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above: the very first issue, when the enterprize was in comics format, with a very Harvey Kurtzmanesque cover.



MAD'S future looked as good as doomed very early in the anti-comics crusading days, but happily directing forces Gainsborough and Kurtzman took the unprecedented step of transforming the journal from a comic into a bona-fide magazine, [around issue 24] thus side-stepping the worst excesses of the Mc Carthyesque puritans, who were hell-bent on 'cleaning up' the 'polluted' comics scene of the USA in that paranoic era.

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Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:13 pm
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I fondly remember reading Mad and especially Don Martin and Spy v.Spy. There were paperback reprints as well of a number of Mad strips. Don Martin did the superhero parody Captain Klutz which was hilarious.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/4101443577/
There were also imitations and there was a wee newsagents in Coatbridge where they had them hanging from a piece of string by a clothes peg, above the counter.:-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracked_%28magazine%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick_%28magazine%29
And later from Marvel:-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_Magazine
but Crazy was different and didn't appeal to me.
But there's something tickling away at the back of my memory and I'm now sure there was another Mad type magazine called Broke. Or am I having a senior moment here?


Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:06 pm
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My cousin was always into "sophisticated" humour during our childhood (The Three Amigos always seemed to be on in their house, I wondered why anybody would watch a western where they weren't all shooting each other). He had a book called Boiling mad which I loved, though a lot of it went over my head. I could tell it was pretty old, what with the idea that people would build their own hi-fi system. I also drew a parody of the cover with my brother in a cauldron of baked beans powering a spaceship with farts, which made him fantastically angry XD.
Much later my uncle gave me a handful of comics including a 60's Mad, which has a story about the space programme and pollution. ("We're not trapped in space, you're trapped on earth!").

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Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:55 pm
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I've been a big Mad fan since the early 70s and the one thing that stood out was it contained no adverts. As a tv addict at the time I loved the parodies of the current tv shows. I had a small collection of the paperbacks but they were very hard to read as the page was spread across the spine and you had to bend the book right back to read it. I have kept all my Mads and they among my most treasured titles. Cracked was second best. There was also Sick which had a lot of Joe Simon artwork.


Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:41 pm
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Thanks for the tailored responses, guys: Paw: there was another comic called 'Crazy' or perhaps 'Krazy' which was an IPC UK job put out in the late 70s? that surely some on here must be familiar with: this comic was clearly MAD-inspired if aimed more at schoolkids, and adopted many similar traits, like fake ' excercize book covers' on the back page, designed to fool the teacher..........




Steve: yes I can confirm that early-period MAD contained no outside advertising [always a good sign in a journal] although I hear that recent hard times have seen even MAD taking on advertising, I just hope the stuff looks 'appropriate' and in keeping with the visual tone of the mag.

For absolute spot-on, elaborately-mounted, hyper-effective advertising satire, MAD is without doubt peerless in this respect, and this aspect was evident right from the very early days:

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Felneymike: thanks for your equally valid memories of Mad.

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:19 am
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The MAD artists:




Now that I can finally study the mag in proper detail on a whim and at my leisure, I am starting to pinpoint the individual styles from many of MAD's top artists, and it has to be said that the journal undoubtedly attracted first-rate talent from the height and breadth of the USA, and even further afar.

Right from the outset-from issue one----MAD was a quality concern, with absolute top-drawer talent, and the very first satirical satire [!] published within it's manic pages was nibbed by the extremely talented WALLY WOOD, who may well be MAD'S most accomplished cartoonist ever, and I certainly rate his skills:


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from MAD issue 41

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:30 am
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In case anybody didn't know, Cracked has re-launched as a website at www.cracked.com

It's probably quite a bit different to the magazine, with funny lists (some of them actually quite interesting and educational) and photoshop competitions.

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:16 pm
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I'll probably add a small section on MAD-inspired periodicals, Mike----muchos thanx!

Wally Wood's versatility knows no bounds going by the sheer diversity of his prolific output [which stretched far, far, beyond MAD.

Just clock THIS lot for being multi-talented!:

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:16 pm
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One of the Mad paperbacks reprinted Wally Wood's version of Superman. But the reduction in size spoiled one's appreciation of it. One of the Mad things I liked was their "what if" versions of famous newspaper strips like Peanuts and Dick Tracy.


Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:14 pm
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that's 'Superduperman' the strip you mention, Steve---it's in one of the very early comic editions of MAD. I agree that many great strips were reproduced in the MAD paperbacks at too shrunken-down a level to really do them real justice; I had no idea until recently that most of the early strips were in full colour, and it's a real eye-opener seeing the original format properly.

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Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:56 am
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Just had another look at my Mad dvdrom I never seem to read a whole issue...the artist button is too tempting..spy v's spy..Don Martin and the margin cartoonist..are the ones I like best..

if I had them as paper copy I would read all of it..

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Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:39 am
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Sergio Aragones was the border artist. He also did regular pages in House of Mystery. Cain's Games Room etc.


Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:52 pm
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Peter: I agree the purely 'cartoon' aspects of MAD are the ones I dive into first; spy vs spy was the only strip that really grabbed me instantly back in 1971....

Steve:was Aragones the dude who done the little margin drawings [as you suggest}: these are missing from the MAD reprint books, but yes, the mag looks better with these---very funny, a lot of them.

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Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:07 am
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As a matter of interest, Rab, Did you realize that your thread title was actually used on one of Mad's paperback reprint collections (shown below with its superb Wraparound cover by Jack Davis)? In fact those paperbacks can be particularly collectible as many of them showcased all-new material that never appeared in the magazine (Prohias' Spy vs. Spy, for example, and Don Martin's classic Captain Klutz stories), as well as Sergio Aragones' 'Mad Marginals'.

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On the subject of Aragones I assume you're already familiar with his most famous creation, Groo the Wanderer, who has starred in hundreds of comics and graphic novels over the past twenty years or so:

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...However, I have to admit that my all-time favourite Aragones comic has to be the semi-serious western series 'Bat Lash' that he plotted for DC way back in the late 1960s. With its brilliant Nick Cardy artwork I really can't recommend the Showcase Presents collection highly enough!

- Phil Rushton


Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:04 pm
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