Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Thursday, July 04, 2019


Sign of the Apocalypse Dept.

My Uncle Jerry read Mad. He read it in the 60s and amassed a giant pile of them, which sat in my grandparents' attic, waiting for my grubby seven-year-old hands to paw through them. Reading those issues, I learned all about 60s pop culture and politics, in a way that no history class could have taught.

The first issue of my own I remember buying was the issue with Superman: The Movie on the cover. ("Superduperman," to answer your question.) There are jokes in that issue that I still remember. Superman calls Lois "ol' eagle-eye" for her keen observational skills; the robot dog in the Battlestar Galactica parody craps a pile of nuts and bolts; an innovative razor uses microwaves to vaporize hairs.

I took the issue in which they parodied Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill to my fourth grade classroom and a classmate took offense to a silhouette of a woman in the shower and told the teacher, who told me she didn't want that kind of filth in the classroom and confiscated it. Mrs. Kaurich was not normally so uptight, but she was probably showing concern for my classmate's feelings. Whatever, Valerie!

I was an even bigger coward as a kid than I am now and scary movies unnerved me. But, I was easily able to make it through them if I had the Mad parody in front of me as I watched. I remember distinctly using this method to take the sting out of both Jaws and Alien. ("Jaw'd" and "Alias", if I remember correctly.)

I viewed about six years-worth of pop culture through the lens of the Usual Gang of Idiots. With apologies to Tom Koch, Dick DeBartolo, Nick Meglin, et al, the writers were a bit monolithic to me and, with the exception of Berg, Prohias, Edwing and the other guys who tended to write and draw their own stuff, I never paid much attention to the writers. But I knew the style of every artist. I could tell my Jack Rickard from my Jack Davis. I had appreciation for the facial expressions Angelo Torres could convey. I found tremendous beauty in raised pinkies and folded feet of Don Martin's characters.

I was always particularly drawn to Mort Drucker's movie parodies. The man could sneak a dozen jokes into the background of every panel. Like absolutely everyone, I adored Al Jaffee. He did a recurring bit called The Shadow Knows which wordless and hilarious. I always did a separate pass through the magazine to focus on Sergio Argones' bits in the margins.

Mad had such a formative influence on my sense of humor. I picked up an issue here and there over the last thirty years, but it wasn't quite the same. I had changed and so had Mad. I did, however, buy subscriptions through the years for--I believe--all my nephews. And my oldest son. Not my niece, though, so that was shitty of me.

Mad is one of those things that shouldn't ever end. I don't care if it's hemorrhaging money and only two people on the planet are subscribing, the world is a better place with Mad in it. The fact that it's folding is one more piece of evidence that we are in the darkest timeline. Stupid, furshlugginer society.