Thursday, 2 December 2010

IT'S A MAD, MAD WORLD...OR IS IT?


Art by DON MARTIN

One day I'll no doubt learn the reason why there's no longer a British edition
of the long-running MAD MAGAZINE, but, up until its inexplicable and sudden
disappearance, for quite a number of years it managed to hold its own amongst
a myriad of other publications on newsagents' shelves and spinner-racks across
the length and breadth of the country. Let's now take a look at a couple
of my personal favourites of this classic and iconic magazine.

Art by MORT DRUCKER

Back in the early '70s, "8 JAMES BOMB BOMB MOVIES" appeared in
issue #146, affectionately ripping the p*ss out of DR. NO to LIVE AND LET
DIE. I might be wrong, but I think this may have been the first time that Mad had
parodied the JAMES BOND movies, and with superb art from the magnificent
MORT DRUCKER, they couldn't fail to strike comedy gold.

Art by NORMAN MINGO

 Another copy of Mad I got in the early '70s was issue #59, 'though this comic
was actually published in the '60s. I only got my paws on it because one of my art
teachers (Mr. BOB BELL) brought it into school one day amongst a box of other
comics. Good bloke that he was, he let me keep it when I mentioned how much I
liked it. This one features a parody of the ADAM WEST/BURT WARD BAT-
MAN TV show, and once again features the superlative art of Mort Drucker.

Art by MORT DRUCKER

I can't remember the last time I saw a copy of the U.S edition of Mad outside
of FORBIDDEN PLANET, and I've certainly never seen one in years in my
local W.H. SMITH's - which makes me wonder why this magazine isn't more
readily available in Britain? And why, after so many presumably successful
years, did the U.K. edition cease to be published?

Anyone know the answers?

FOOTNOTE: Yup - the mighty DEZ SKINN knows the answers.
Read what he has to say in the comments section.

The first British edition, 1959. Art by NORMAN MINGO

3 comments:

Dez Skinn said...

This is getting to be a habit! The UK MAD was swimming along nicely throughout the 1960s and 1970s (from a 1959 launch) as a 36 page monthly, while the parent US edition was 52 pages 8 times a year. Mainly reprint, but obviously with at least four new covers a year. When I became its second editor (after David Climie) with issue 163 I pushed the focus more on film and UK TV spoof content, also dropping those single frame gag covers the US for some reason loved in favour of content tie-in (a cover is a magazine's shop window, after all!).

But it all went wrong around late 1978. The UK licensees moved away from magazine publishing and the Production Director took on the license (he heard about it before me!) to edit & publish it independently. Brave (or greedy) but definitely foolhardy as he had limited resources and didn't have an editorial background.

Sales sagged so he passed the license on to Egmont, which ultimately became Fleetway. But they just didn't get it. Sales were down (still edited by my old production director, but now as a freelancer) so in 1994 new publisher Jon Davidge did a foolish double whammy... he increased the cover price AND made it non-returnable by the newstrade (aka: firm sale) at the same time. Orders went through the floor, coming in at around 8,000, so it was canned with issue 381.

For no known reason the numerous attempts since to pick up the UK license have all been rejected by MAD US's parent company DC Comics.

Whew. Now you know.

For a more colourful overview... http://dezskinn.com/warner-williams/#MAD

Kid said...

Thanks, Dez - not something you regard as a BAD habit I hope. And may I recommend Dez's site to all those interested in comics and behind the scenes info. Click on Dez's link in the sidebar on my page.

Mr Straightman said...

My rants about the modern-day Dandy prompted a well-known American underground cartoonist to contact me in Facebook, saying that exactly the same thing is happening with Mad magazine in the US... Coincidence?