A mere month after DC Comics shuttered its Vertigo imprint after 25 years, its even longer-running name-brand satire comic magazine Mad Magazine is following suit… or at least it won’t be the same magazine that has been published in some form or other for the past 67 years.

This according to rumors that cropped up overnight just as most places were shutting down shop for the 4th of July, leading to an outcry of tributes, most notably from cartoonist Evan Dorkin. The news was then confirmed a few hours later by The Hollywood Reporter, effectively ending an era.

According to the THR story, Issue 9 of Mad will be the last one sold on newsstands, as it will only be available through comic shops and to subscribers after that. Issue 10 will be the last issue featuring new content, as it will instead switch to previously published content and some of the magazine’s best material from the past 67 years with brand-new covers. There will still be an annual year-end special with all-new material.

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This story broke slowly with a rumor about Mad Magazine shuttering altogether to which Dorkin responded on Twitter with a rather long thread that began…

The situation started to clarify itself as more recent contributors and former editors (such as Allie Goertz) chimed in on social media with more information about the changes that would take place over the rest of the year.

Mad Magazine originated in 1952 as a humor comic put together by editor Harvey Kurtzman (who also drew most of the comics) and publisher William Gaines, combining parodies of pop culture including other comic book characters, movies and life in general. After its conversion to magazine format in 1955, Mad had an impressive run of 550 (sometimes sporadic) issues along with numerous specials and reprints before being relaunched last year as a bi-monthly periodical edited by Bill Morrison, who left the publication earlier this year.. yet to be replaced. (Surely, that was not a good omen.) Part of the 2018 relaunch was to reflect the move of the magazine to DC Entertainment’s Burbank offices two years ago.

Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine

The new Mad Magazine seemed to flourish anew with the election of President Donald J. Trump, who became a regular cover foil with the year-end issues and even received a number of reprint specials that presumably sold well.

The number of comic careers that were began or that thrived due to their work in Mad Magazine is countless, not only Kurtzman, but also the likes of Al JaffeeWally WoodJack DavisJohn SeverinSergio AragonesDon Martin, Mort DruckerAntonio Prohias and many more.

Unfortunately, Mad Magazine was never able to transition into other media with quite the impact of its primary satire competition National Lampoon, which produced a number of hugely successful movies in the ’70s and ’80s. (Plus a few not so good ones in the ’00s.)

Mad‘s most high-profile success in other media was probably the 1995 Fox sketch series Mad TV, which bore very little resemblance to the magazine, which ran for a few seasons.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering, “Why is one of The Beat‘s movie guys writing about comics?” Well, let me tell you. Back when I was a young lad in a decade that won’t be mentioned for fear of aging myself (more), I wasn’t allowed to see any R-rated movies and not too many PG ones either.  The Mad Magazine satires by the likes of Mort Drucker and Jack Davis were often the only way I’d even know that some of these movies existed. It actually got to a point recently where I couldn’t remember if I had seen a couple movies from that era… or only remembered them from their Mad Magazine satires. Plus, like most, I was an avid fan of Don Martin and Spy vs. Spy. (Oddly, Spy vs. Spy was one of the Mad comics that was the most frequently discussed as being in some sort of development as a movie.)

These are sad times in comics, especially those who still relished their monthly and then bi-monthly dose of irreverent and often juvenile satire. Over the decades, Mad Magazine was always something you could pick up and get a laugh or at least a chuckle, and it’s influence on comics and comedy is not one that can be discarded or forgotten so easily.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Any behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt if the shutdown might be related to MAD’s recent skewerings of Trump? Maybe it’s a sign of the times that my first thought was that someone in Warner/DC’s executive offices didn’t appreciate that Trump was a regular target for being made fun of.

  2. I loved the comic when I was a kid. The first time I nearly died laughing was while reading an issue with a friend. I’ve been remiss in sharing it with my kids, hoping to find a bunch at a garage sale or something.

  3. “Mad‘s most high-profile success in other media was probably the 1995 Fox sketch series Mad TV, […]
    which ran for a few seasons.”

    MADtv ran for 14 seasons: 1995 through 2008 for over 300 episodes. In 2016 there was a half-hearted ‘reboot’ that ran for a season.
    If for nothing else, the show can be remembered as where Key & Peele started working together.

    imdb.com/title/tt0112056

  4. Like most people born in the last 60 years, I thought of MAD as an American institution that would always be there. Even thought I haven’t read the magazine in decades, it was nice to see it on newsstands.

    I doubt the skewering of Trump had anything to do with this. MAD treated Nixon and LBJ even more savagely during the Vietnam War.

  5. Wow, this was something I grew up on and looked forward to, also the other one, Cracked. I agree with George, I highly doubt making fun of a current president would cause it’s demise. Hell, most people would kill to be mocked in Mad. It is just a sign of the times. People like us reading this, were readers of print. I can remember saving my money to buy it, and looking forward to it. Alot of it I didn’t get as a child, but when I think back, as an adult that was funny. I have some sections of some magazine where you would be burned out of town for printing, they include words we cannot say today that we could say back then. Oh well.

  6. I think Trump and his followers are too busy attacking CNN and the NY Times to pay attention to a dying humor magazine. OTOH, Trump has thrown tantrums over Alec Baldwin’s send-ups on SNL, so who knows?

    Film critic Owen Gleiberman said he often read the MAD parodies before he was old enough to see the movies. When he did see the movies, he was sometimes disappointed. He wanted them to be more like the parodies!

    MAD often pointed out things that were obvious but usually unspoken. I remember the GRADUATE parody where the Dustin Hoffman character asks: “Mom, how come I’m Jewish and you and Dad aren’t?”

  7. Incidentally, if you’re wondering, “Why is one of The Beat‘s movie guys writing about comics?” -No. No, no one was wondering this whatsoever. I mean that in the nicest way. There seems to be a growing epidemic of some time now of bloggers and comic/pop culture sites making their writers ‘personalities’ and I get that but I’d much rather have reports than livejournal entries where every article has a lot of “I, I, I” and “me, me, me”. There’s a time and place for personal remembrance and context but no, just the facts please.

  8. “Personal remembrance and context” is what makes writers human and interesting. If you just want to read press releases, you can go to the comic-book companies’ websites.

  9. Seems the answer is right here in the comments section…none of the “faithful” still reads the book. I too loved Mad as a kid. About a year ago there was a GroupOn for a 2 year subscription. It was cheap…like $10 for 2 years so I bought it. After receiving the first 3 issues, I cancelled the subscription. As much as I wanted it to be great, it wasn’t great. There were a few gems in each issue, but overall, it was lacking. Sorry to see it go, but hey, sometimes you gotta tie a comic to a tree and bash it in the head with a shovel.

    By the way, not one mention of Al Feldstein in ANY of the Mad tributes, how the F@#% is that possible? (He “created” Alfred E. Neuman for crying out loud.) Years ago at a convention, he once told me the story of how the Alfred E. Neuman likeness was stolen from another company that pre-dated EC. So technically, if you don’t use the “What Me Worry” tagline, you can use the likeness with impunity. He strongly recommended doing so! RIP MAD

  10. Mag. died when it left NY & became a Cal. DC comic book. Just didn’t understand the Hollywood humor over & over after the move to Cal. & from Mag. to comic book. I was along time reader & subscriber should have let it die quick in NY

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