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Some other thoughts:

  • The word that, going forward, MAD will be available only to subscribers and in comics shops totally told me it was dead. Who subscribes? And everywhere I've been, it's more likely MAD is present on magazine racks in newsstands and stores like CVS than at comics shops.
  • There was a fair number of "I haven't read MAD since I was 13" comments, which I find not at all helpful. I think MAD is very much the kind of publication that fits Mort Weisenger's belief that the readers will read a comic for three to five years and move on. However, as noted above, there's lots of new and different competition for the readers to replace those who have moved on.
  • I did find one specific thing in that Tom Richmond piece to be very sad: His belief that there's no way the title could be sold or turned over to other hands, like a smaller publisher that could live with sales lower than what a conglomerate expects.

Here's a piece from Vulture: "The Lost MAD Magazine TV Special No Advertiser Would Touch" 

It was a pilot for a proposed show with material right from the pages of the magazine. The artlcle includes a link to a YouTube video.

The demise of Mad reminds me of nothing so much as 1993's "Death of Superman." The media are full of people bemoaning the fate of Mad (as they were of Superman, decades ago), but how many of them are currently actually reading it? People like the idea of Mad (or Superman), but stop short of actually supporting it.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

The demise of Mad reminds me of nothing so much as 1993's "Death of Superman." The media are full of people bemoaning the fate of Mad (as they were of Superman, decades ago), but how many of them are currently actually reading it? People like the idea of Mad (or Superman), but stop short of actually supporting it.


ClarkKent_DC said:

Some other thoughts:

  • There was a fair number of "I haven't read MAD since I was 13" comments, which I find not at all helpful. I think MAD is very much the kind of publication that fits Mort Weisenger's belief that the readers will read a comic for three to five years and move on. However, as noted above, there's lots of new and different competition for the readers to replace those who have moved on.

People love the idea of Sesame Street, but don't watch it any more; it was the perfect thing for you at that age, but not now. Same with MAD 

I think it's fair to lament that it won't be around any more for other youngsters to enjoy as we did. 

Thanks for this, CK. I know magazines -- like all print -- are in trouble, but I haven't kept up with the various troubles.

ClarkKent_DC said:

I've seen any number of pieces bemoaning the end of MAD, but, oddly, none of them related it to the overall picture of magazine publishing. Glamour magazine killed its print edition last November and is online only. Entertainment Weekly will go monthly in August and is focusing online. Ebony has been circling the drain the past two years ever since it was sold in 2016 to some hedge-fund guys who don't know what to do with it. Last month, Ebony laid off its online staff and a week later cut everybody else.

One of MAD's problems, like many a pioneer, is that it has influenced any number of imitators and competitors who are far more nimble at getting their stuff out there. How does a bimonthly magazine compete when people can get doses of satire around the clock from places like The OnionCollege Humor, JibJab, Funny or Die, or YouTube channels like How It Should Have Ended and Epic Rap Battles of History? Not to mention clips from Steven Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel and their brethren ,,, which I won't mention because what they do is more suited to old farts like us, not the presumed 13-year-old MAD reader.

Even MAD's foremost competitor, Cracked, has survived in the online era by turning itself into a clickbait trivia site. Its personality is nothing like Cracked the print magazine (which we discuss starting here); the online Cracked takes a snarky tone more like, well, MAD.

"People love the idea of Sesame Street, but don't watch it any more; it was the perfect thing for you at that age, but not now. Same with MAD."

I don't know if that analogy holds true. I still enjoy coming across a vintage MAD magazine I have never seen before, but I find the current version virtually unreadable. (For the record, I have been reading the annual "20 Stupidest Things of the Year" issue for the past decade and a half.)

ClarkKent_DC said:

I've seen any number of pieces bemoaning the end of MAD, but, oddly, none of them related it to the overall picture of magazine publishing. Glamour magazine killed its print edition last November and is online only. Entertainment Weekly will go monthly in August and is focusing online. Ebony has been circling the drain the past two years ever since it was sold in 2016 to some hedge-fund guys who don't know what to do with it. Last month, Ebony laid off its online staff and a week later cut everybody else.

Captain Comics said:

Thanks for this, CK. I know magazines -- like all print -- are in trouble, but I haven't kept up with the various troubles.

That's not even the half of it. The Time Inc. empire of magazines has been broken up. Meredith Corp., publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and other publications targeted to women, bought Time Inc. in 2018 and quickly moved to offload Time magazine, Golf Magazine, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated to different buyers. It couldn't find a buyer for Money so it killed the print edition in April but kept it alive online; subscribers were given Kiplinger's Personal Finance instead. Separately, Essence magazine was sold in January 2018 to a hair-care products magnate.

And that doesn't even get into what Conde Nast is doing with its magazines, but I don't have time right now to look that up.

I even miss the Apter mags, which only seem to come out two or three times a year, now.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"People love the idea of Sesame Street, but don't watch it any more; it was the perfect thing for you at that age, but not now. Same with MAD."

I don't know if that analogy holds true. I still enjoy coming across a vintage MAD magazine I have never seen before, but I find the current version virtually unreadable. (For the record, I have been reading the annual "20 Stupidest Things of the Year" issue for the past decade and a half.)

What about the analogy doesn't hold true? I wouldn't watch Sesame Street today every day -- I'm not 4 years old -- but I can come across an episode and watch for a few minutes and crawl into my mental WABAC machine and feel that happy wave of nostalgia. That's in large part because today's Sesame Street isn't far off from yesterday's, even if a lot of the longtime actors are gone and there are a lot of new Muppets and even Big Bird has a new voice (because Carroll Spinney retired).

But MAD? I think you undercut your own point here -- 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

The media are full of people bemoaning the fate of Mad (as they were of Superman, decades ago), but how many of them are currently actually reading it? People like the idea of Mad (or Superman), but stop short of actually supporting it.


Like you, I don't much like the modern MAD ...

ClarkKent_DC said:

I saw the final regular issue of MAD on the magazine rack at my friendly neighborhood supermarket, but didn't feel compelled to buy it. I'm not the target audience for today's MAD, but I can't enjoy it because it seems so much more crude and crass than it was when I was in the target audience.

In short, reading the modern MAD does NOT evoke that happy wave of nostalgia. So I'm not surprised the people bemoaning the fate of MAD, who like the idea of MAD, aren't actually reading it. I wlll be charitable and say it's because "I'm not the target audience anymore" as the modern MAD is more crude and crass than it used to be. 

ClarkKent_DC said:

And that doesn't even get into what Condé Nast is doing with its magazines, but I don't have time right now to look that up.

Let's see ...Condé Nast, which is known for profligate spending, went through a round of belt-tightening. That included killing Details magazine in 2016, turning Self and Teen Vogue magazines into online publications in 2017, selling Golf Digest and Brides magazines in May, and seling W magazine two weeks ago.

“What about the analogy doesn't hold true?
I think you undercut your own point…”

I think there are two points under discussion:

1) Tomorrow’s youth will have no MAD
2) Even before it went away, MAD was no MAD

I read the first issue of the new MAD, and I liked it quite a bit. But it's one of so many comedy outlets that goes after Trump so hard and so often, and I just don't need that. Don't misunderstand me: I can't stand the guy, and he deserves every bit of ridicule he gets, and more. But it's such a rich, crowded lane for comedy that I try to limit my intake of Trump humor to only my favorite voices on the subject (at the moment, Steve Colbert, and occasionally Sam Bee and John Oliver). MAD's jabs at him feel stale and juvenile in comparison -- much like Mike Norton's L'il Donnie comic strips, I just don't get many laughs out of them, just a head-nod. 

I don't blame MAD for this -- political humor is in its DNA. It's just a sign of the times that there's such a glut. The other parts of the magazine I've read have been good -- Cartoonists like Kerry Callen, Bob Fingerman... I think there's a great level of craft in the new MAD. But I'm not the target audience anymore, and I don't want to buy a new thing with Trump's face on the cover every issue.  

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