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Published by: Glen Brink on 06-Jul-19
 
Mad magazine’s demise is part of the ending of a world

The face of Alfred E. Neuman is framed by attendees of the 2017 Comic-Con International in San Diego. (Kevin Sullivan/AP)

Columnist
July 5 at 6:04 PM

The demise of Mad magazine is hardly a surprise. Times are tricky for print publications in general — all the more so for a title targeted with exquisite precision at middle-school boys. They are Nature’s neglected travelers, parked on an apron while the girls they used to know go racing down the evolutionary runway and take flight into the wild blue of adulthood.

Because life has, for the moment, scorned them, they return the favor, and for a couple of generations, Mad was both a tutor and a tool of their anarchy. Its cartooned pages confirmed their suspicions that parents are hypocrites, that heroes have clay feet, that popular culture is a ripoff and that a guy might as well laugh at existence because existence is already laughing at him. “What, me worry?” asked mascot Alfred E. Neuman, eternally hapless, perpetually 13.

In its day, Mad would have rolled its googly eyes at the corporate doublespeak of its own death notice. Mad will no longer publish new content, we were informed, but will continue into the uncertain future by repackaging old material between new covers. Television used to do a version of that. It was called “The Love Boat.” Each week, another washed-up celebrity took a cruise to nowhere. Mad ran a parody in 1978.

No doubt my interest in the subject is partly nostalgic. My own middle-school years in the early 1970s coincided with the peak of Mad’s influence and circulation. Two million people bought the magazine in those days, and even on a 50-cent weekly allowance, it was worth 40 cents. The “usual gang of idiots” (as Mad referred to its stable of contributors) included a number of supremely talented caricaturists and gag writers alongside a few authentic geniuses.

currated by Glen Brink from washingtonpost.com

 
 

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