No joke: MAD marks 500th issue
What, MAD worry?
Alfred E. Neuman and the Usual Gang of Idiots are keeping stiff upper lips as they mark a bittersweet occasion.
MAD magazine's landmark 500th issue hits newsstands tomorrow -- the same day the 57-year-old monthly publication goes quarterly.
The usual gang of suspects is the reason: bad economy, drop in advertising, changing demographics.
MAD's circulation peaked at 2 million a year in the early 1970s, but the numbers have slipped to about 200,000. Canceled earlier this year were MAD Kids, a 3-year-old quarterly for children, and MAD Classics, which featured reprint material.
Now part of DC Comics, the magazine is best known for its political satire, zany story lines and parodies of pop culture.
Has the change in humor affected the magazine's popularity?
"People's taste in humor always change and we hope MAD has reflected that," says John Ficarra, 53, who has been editor-in-chief since 1984 (he was co-editor with Nick Meglin for much of that time).
"We have a lot more political humor, the language has been ramped up," he said. "We always mirror society. There's been a coarsening of society and things that wouldn't have been printed years ago are in there now."
What's really changed is how people get their humor today. "It's now on the Web, where people are creating humor, 'The Daily Show,' Letterman's Top 10. There's an immediacy in humor that wasn't there when MAD first started."
To that end, the MAD masters are working on a new Web site to update their acerbic satire 24/7.
Still, if you haven't read MAD in a while -- the average age of its readers is 26 -- it's worth picking up No. 500 ($5.99 cheap!). In addition to a review of images from its first 499 editions, there's the "Bailout Hymn of the Republic," "The Dead Celebrity Apprentice" show, and spoofs on Obama, Octomom, the Jonas Brothers, Wolverine and even A-Rod.
And don't write MAD's obituary yet. Tomorrow's cover declares: "Look for our 1,000th issue in July 2134!"
First Published April 27, 2009 12:00 am