Mad Magazine, an irreverent institution since 1952, is dead. Well… mostly dead. Is it yet another casualty of DC Comics’ poor management?
A Brief History
Last year, DC relaunched the magazine as a twice-a-month title with a greater focus on pop culture. They also moved the publication from its longtime New York City home to Burbank, California–a move that several insiders cited as a big mistake. But that wasn’t enough to save the publication.
Considering that they didn’t run ads at all until 2001, it’s a miracle it managed to stay afloat for almost 70 years.
Mad Magazine was created by Harvey Kurtzman. It made Alfred E. Neuman into a household name (or at least household face). It gave us Spy Vs. Spy by cartoonist Antonio Prohias and taught us all how to reveal hidden messages thanks to Al Jaffee’s fold-ins. They didn’t care who they lampooned and satirized even the most powerful political figures.
But the rag was read almost exclusively by kids and teens. The combo of juvenile humor and total lack of respect for authority made it deeply appealing to kids, but by the time most of us hit high school we’d moved on. And kids these days have Snapchat and YouTube. They don’t need or want a magazine that their grandparents used to read.
Is ‘Mad’ Actually Dead?
After the upcoming August issue, Mad won’t be available on newsstands and the magazine will stop publishing new material. It’ll continue sending out reprints with new covers to its subscribers, and you’ll still be able to buy those issues at comic book stores. To keep the trademark alive, DC will continue to publish Mad‘s annual year-end issue, along with the occasional special collection.
So, is it DC’s fault that Mad will soon be no more? Sadly, we can’t pin this one on DC/Warner Bros. The internet killed Mad. Who needs to subscribe to a printed, bi-monthly satire magazine when you can get endless memes delivered straight to your eyeballs 24/7?
Predictably, the eulogies started to pour in on social media the moment the news broke. Former editor Allie Goertz, who stepped down in June, wrote:
MAD is an institution with such a rich history. It informed just about every comedian and writer I (and probably you) look up to.
Weird Al Yankovic–who served as a guest editor for Mad in 2015–expressed his sorrow on Twitter:
I am profoundly sad to hear that after 67 years, MAD Magazine is ceasing publication,” the singer-songwriter said. “I can’t begin to describe the impact it had on me as a young kid–it’s pretty much the reason I turned out weird. Goodbye to one of the all-time greatest American institutions. #ThanksMAD.
Even though many of us hadn’t read a single page of Mad Magazine since we hit puberty, it was still comforting to think of Alfred E. Neuman carrying on without us, without a worry in the world.