MAD #1

As a kid in the Seventies I loved MAD. The paperback reprints of the original Fifties stuff looked so good, with such lunatic energy, that it didn’t matter that I’d never heard of Gasoline Alley or Smilin’ Jack. At the same time I was buying the British version, which mixed the US material with original lampoons of such UK shows as Doctor Who and Coronation Street – those jokes I could get. 

Over the years, though, I fell away from MAD. Hearing that EC/Warners/DC were relaunching it, though, I decided to take a look. And I’m impressed. OK, it’s a shame such a long-running title has been rolled back to #1, but MAD really does need something to scream ‘Relaunch!’  The first thing I noticed with my digital edition was that the whole thing is in colour. I expect that’s been the case for years, but the UK editions were alway black and white, so seeing everything in a blaze of glory was a pleasant surprise. The strips and features are pretty familiar, but not in a bad way. The Last Jedi spoof by writer Desmond Devlin and artist Tom Richmond took me straight back to the Seventies and the original MAD pricking of Star Wars – clever caricatures, cutely contrived script… it’s not hilarious, but it’s amusing, entertaining and has some nice insights into the series. 

And the same can be said for the rest of the issue. It’s the classic MAD mix of familiar features riffing on up-to-the-minute news and pop culture. Sergio Arigones is still around, contributing A MAD Look at Harassment – very zeitgeisty and as wry as I’d expect from the veteran talent. 

We get a feature imagining greetings cards as written by Donald Trump. 

There’s Spy Vs Spy, which I never understood – I’m rubbish at silent humour strips. Even the Al Jaffee fold-ins survive, helpfully stretched out over seven pages in the online edition so all readers can get the ever-clever visual gag. 

And there’s lots more, all of it at least a little funny/clever. But what really sold me on this issue were two comic strips about comics – Starchie Reconstituted, a spot-on update of Starchie from June 1954’s Mad #12, which brings things totally up to date from this beginning…

A helpful digital bonus reminds us of the original. 

Writer Ian Boothby and artist Tom Richmond – who also drew the Last Jedi spoof, talented chap – do a brilliant job of homaging Bill Elder’s sublime original lampoon, before going somewhere rather different…

And then there’s the real treat for this old superhero fan, a three-page piece of nonsensical nostalgia from Kerry Callen. 

Isn’t that gorgeous? It reminds me a little of Mike Allred’s long-ago issue of DC’s Solo series, while being entirely its own thing. 

This relaunch of MAD is good enough to bring me back next issue. Humour is, once again, in a jugular vein. 

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MAD #1 review, DC Comics, EC Comics, Kerry Callen, Archie, Ian Boothby, Tom Richmond, Desmond Devlin, Al Jaffee, Sergio Arigones

5 thoughts on “MAD #1

  1. Growing up I was a “Cracked” fan, moreso than “Mad,” however, despite soon eliminating inclusions of the magazine's regular features, the American sketch show must have influenced me as I wound up getting it for many years during the early 2000's. It would often provide me with true “LOL” humour, but either I found the humour would sometimes go too far, or just not exist. I have looked in specials targeting super heroees of late, but never picked any up. I do think it's sad that we live in an age where an issue having a large number on the front puts off readers (National Geographic no longer has a number on their magazine. Even its TV channel now sports “Reality TV” and drama series, but I digress,) however the magazine must have suffered in sales as it was no longer published monthly. From what you've shown, I don't see anything new at all, unless they did away with these features and are bringing them back (maybe the colour, but not sure). I do notice the logo is back to its original. But, in today's market, and with the general power of a “#1” on the cover, maybe this will help keep such a foremost authority on satire going for future generations.

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  2. I must say I do like how cameos of “Li'l Abner's” Daisy Mae and I-Can't-Remember-That-Comic-Strip-Character's-Name into “Starchie.” I'm kind of suprised a writer/ artist would know about them today.

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  3. Is that me at to be a take-off of Sluggo from Nancy? I’ve only seen the odd Cracked paperback from the Seventies, but they were OK.

    And I do prefer the big numbers, but certainly the relaunch got my attention. Maybe next issue will be #552!

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  4. Looks like Sluggo to me! And hey, Nancy's having a resurgence! I haven't had a change to get a copy of Mad yet, but I'm excited to see it. There's a lot of new talent joining the always-great veterans!

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