Goodbye to Mad Magazine
I’m surprised, and yet, really, how could anyone be shocked? How could we expect a traditional publication, one that seemed to cater mostly to 14-year-old boys, still be alive and kicking (and lampooning) in 2020?
The answer is: It won’t be. Mad Magazine, an iconic safe house for smart-asses the world over, will cease publishing new material at the end of 2019.
If you never spent time flipping through its sarcastic, irreverent pages — or if you did but just didn’t get it — that’s fine. My mother and father were dumbfounded that their son, normally a straight-A honor student, would giggle and snort at the most juvenile, ridiculous images.
I think that explains a lot.
I was a good kid, president of the honor society and all that — and yet even goody-two-shoes need a relief valve. Mad Magazine was all that and more. It was snarky and rebellious in a smart way.
And let’s not overlook that. Sure, there were plenty of booger- and fart-laced jokes scattered among the pages. But there were also intelligent, well-targeted pieces of satire in there. Often Mad was how I, as a curious teen, learned about a variety of adult issues, whether it was Watergate, race relations, or activism.
Through its caricatures and slightly-naughty cartoon images I absorbed a completely different education than I got at Jefferson Junior High. And perhaps one that was somehow equally important.
My parents only grudgingly gave me the money to buy a Mad, and even then only a few times a year. I missed out on most of them and had to hope that friends would have them.
To this day one of my more profound memories is of my friend and neighbor, Ted Woodward, refusing to let me borrow his giant stack of Mad Magazines. He stood right in his doorway with arms crossed and said “No.”
That was 44 years ago and I still feel the burn of shock and anger. Would anyone carry a memory like that about People or Cosmo?
Yeah, it’s 2019 and times have changed. Now it’s not just the kids in the back of the class who act up and inspire the antics of Mad Magazine; it’s everyone, kids and adults alike. Really, are today’s elected officials any more mature than Alfred E. Neuman?
So another anchor point from our past quietly disappears. After nearly 70 years of giving the establishment a popsicle-stained middle finger (even literally, on an infamous 1974 cover) Mad ends its run of new content.
Thank you to the artists and writers who allowed this good kid to be vicariously bad. It was fun.