13 COVERS: A Salute to MAD MAGAZINE

The end of a beloved mag…

Harvey Kurtzman

Man, Mad Magazine.

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now that Mad is shutting down after its upcoming Issue #10. (You may recall that a little while ago DC rebooted the series back to #1.)

“After Issue #10 this fall there will no longer be new content — except for the end-of-year specials which will always be all new,” DC said in a statement. “So starting with Issue #11 the magazine will feature classic, best-of and nostalgic content from the last 67 years.”

Issues will feature new covers, and books and special collections will continue, as well.

So this is kind of bittersweet. It’s disappointing that Mad wasn’t able to keep up with modern tastes — which, let’s face it, is why it’s going away — but at the same time I’ll probably pick up a copy for the first time in years if the series starts reprinting material from, say, the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

We’ll see.

Norman Mingo. Frame by Kurtzman and Will Elder.

In the meantime, I can’t help but think back to just how big a deal Mad was in its heyday. It was a satire magazine, of course, but in essence it was the one comic book that was socially acceptable at multiple ages and levels.

Everybody read Mad Magazine. My sister read it, my friends read it, older kids read it, I read it.

My wife Wendy, who is not much of a comics reader, read it growing up. We were talking this morning about how much fun it was, how great the fold-ins were, how it made you feel smarter. (We disagreed on the merits of Spy vs. Spy. I’m pro. She’s anti.) It also gave us some of our earliest political awakenings.

Mingo

But I also talked to my 20-year-old son, Sam, who dabbled in Mad for a spell. He was a little let down too but he pointed out that Mad wasn’t really relevant to him and his friends. Where we grew up in a world where everyone read Mad, he only knew a couple of kids who did.

And that’s it right there, isn’t it?

My recollection is that our friends, Paul and Nina Kessin — who, remarkably, also introduced us to the Beatles and me to comics stores — clued my older sister Paula and me in on Mad. After that, Paula got it all the time. (I think she subscribed.)

I dug it overall of course, but I was really taken by its pop-culture parodies. I read and re-read the Planet of the Apes, James Bond and Star Wars satires over and over.

From Mad #165. Written by Arnie Kogen. Art by Mort Drucker.

Naturally, all this calls for a 13 COVERS salute — a mix of personal favorites and noteworthy ones, including those I’ve shown off above. I’ll also be re-presenting some Mad material we’ve run over the last few years — such as 13 GREAT AL JAFFEE FOLD-INS — and you’ll find the links below.

Anyway, Mad is leaving us, in very large fashion.

What — me worry?

Yeah. A little.

Kelly Freas

Mingo

Jack Rickard

Mingo. I didn’t pick this one up until just a few years ago.

Basil Wolverton

Rickard

Rickard

Mort Kunstler

Mingo

MORE

— 13 MAD FOLD-INS: An AL JAFFEE Celebration. Click here.

— 13 DON MARTIN CARTOONS: A Salute. Click here.

Cover images and credits from the wistful Grand Comics Database.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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2 Comments

  1. Complete honesty time: I’m MUCH more likely to buy upcoming issues of MAD now that I know they’ll be selecting the content from classic material. If the new material in recent issues of MAD ceased to be relevant, that’s DC’s fault, but frankly I don’t buy many DC comics these days anyway, *except* for reprints. And Scooby-Doo Team-Up… that’s still good. And Green Lantern. Other than that, mostly just limited series that aren’t part of the DCU mainstream. Doomsday Clock, Dial H for HERO, Female Furies, Wonder Twins, Freedom Fighters.

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    • Remember the comment in the movie THE GRADUATE? PLASTIC was the big money maker. Young man go into plastic! Well the new way to make money is by owning and marketing CONTENT! Ask Disney. Ask AT&T. CONTENT is KING. Do you really think MAD’s content is going to be dumped. No way. It won’t be in magazines–it will more likely be in bookazines at the supermarket check out counters and book stores. 4 or5 issues a year will bring in the bucks for print and god knows what other digital areas will that be taped. Plus Merchandising. Film and whatever new medium is invented. Wait and see kiddies…NORMA HAIMES MARTIN

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