MAD #471

It’s been a long while since I’ve looked at a MAD Magazine. I very much enjoyed working with the editors last decade, during my brief time at DC, but before that job, I last read the publication back when I was a kid. In fact, there are a number of movies I know the plot of only because I read their parodies.

I can intellectually appreciate the significance of the magazine back during its 50s heyday, before snarky satire became the commonplace it is today. Nowadays, though, there doesn’t seem to be much of a place for a general humor mag. MAD’s part of the status quo instead of an important anti-establishment voice.

MAD #471 cover
MAD #471

MAD’s changed a lot since I last looked. That it now includes ads is the most obvious — mostly video games, but also pimple cream, and two car spots. More subtle is what’s missing. No TV or movie parodies. No “Lighter Side of”. None of the long-running features I remember. Instead, there’s something called Fundalini, which I had to go to Wikipedia to figure out. Aragones’ marginals are still there, though, thank goodness, as is “Spy vs. Spy” (which doesn’t look right to me in color and shading).

This issue was sent to me because they’re hoping to get some publicity out of election week. Sadly, the political humor, consisting of pieces like “Honest Campaign Slogans We’d Like to Hear”, is badly defanged. They don’t seem willing to really poke hard; instead, the gags are the same old tired japes. Why not draw a little blood? Rather than call Bush stupid (har har), why not play up how much he looks like Alfred E. Neuman? It’s been done before, but at least that shows the kind of healthy disrespect that’s necessary for truly good humor.

(And it’s not as though freshness is a prerequisite — other targets this issue include pedophile priests, Mel Gibson’s racism, and sexual predators on MySpace.)

The piece that I thought worked best was “The 18 Worst Things About Halloween”, because it was timely and concentrated on jokes were based on things anyone could relate to. I did find it odd that it was clearly aimed at a school-age audience, though, given the car ads elsewhere in the issue. Wouldn’t that be better included in MAD Kids? (A concept humorous in itself, only in a “laughing at” kind of way.)

2 Responses to “MAD #471”

  1. Lyle Says:

    I gave made a brief re-sampling last year and a lot of the old features were still there, but they stood out from the rest of the magazine. I stopped picking it up after three issues or so since I wasn’t getting enough enjoyment for the cover price, though I did like a lot of the jokes in those issues. Most importantly, I picked it up because I heard Don Asmussen was contributing, but that turned out to be a small six-panel strip that was good but not the brilliance I get from his San Francisco Chronicle work for a quarter.

    On a related note, I sampled the first issue of the new Cracked and a lot of your criticsms of this Mad convinced me not to buy another issue — obvious jokes and when they joke was a little interesting the follow-up wasn’t there.

  2. Dave Says:

    I’m sad there weren’t any TV or movie parodies. That’s unfortunate. The reason there is no Lighter side of… is because Dave Berg died in 2002. Spy vs. Spy is now written and drawn by Peter Kuper, whose style is much different than Mr. Prohias’ original.




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