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MAD to drop to quarterly magazine

Newsarama is reporting that MAD magazine will drop from a monthly magazine to quarterly after it’s April edition. According to Newsarama the magazine will expand to 56 pages from 48. Also announced that MAD kids and Mad Classics will be discontinued.

MAD editor John Ficarra is reportedly quoted as saying “The feedback we’ve gotten from readers is that only every third issue of MAD is funny, so we’ve decided to just publish those.”

It sounds like Tom Richmond will be impacted. On his blog he writes:

Obviously this is very sad news. I’m a little too busy right now to write much about it, but needess to say I’ll be having a lot more free time in the future for blogging. I’ll address it more in depth next week.

He also writes that he’ll comment more next week.

Community Comments

#1 Phil Tography
January/23/2009
@ 8:12 pm

whadda a bomb shell !!!
This is one of those mags which you think will be around forever. A piece of American Satire history is going before our eyes. Thanks Alfred E. Newman.

#2 Dave Crews
January/24/2009
@ 10:09 am

Wow, that’s a shocker. Too bad.

#3 Jeff Stanson
January/24/2009
@ 10:57 am

Long ago MAD lost its bent for wit, satire, and real humor in favor of the cheap shot, the smutty joke, and the jab from the left. The degradation of the content has led to a decline in sales that has resulted in this drop in frequency. I predict that after only a few more years it will return to its comic book roots and find a niche in direct sales to comic shops rather than continue as a newstand staple. Alfred E. Newman, may he rest in peace.

#4 Squire Osborne
January/24/2009
@ 3:53 pm

Can’t believe the changes in this industry. Having been in the publishing business for over 30 years it makes me sad to see newspaper strips, comic books and many publications themselves shrink in size or even go away.
MAD was one of those staples I thought would never have gotten caught up in this trend. I am shocked. On the other hand I also believe this can be reversed through the WEB and the return to the basic quality that gave rise to this wonderful artform in the beginning.
The cheap jabs and low quality humor must be shelved and we need to create, enhance and develope strips, mags and graphic novels that make it possible to overcome the bottom line of the bean counters. IT CAN HAPPEN!

#5 Jeff Hawley
January/24/2009
@ 9:29 pm

As a long-time MAD subscriber, I refuse to give cognizance to those posters above who can’t spell Alfred E. Neuman’s name correctly. Luckily for them (and us), MAD didn’t stick with AEN’s original name: Melvin Cowznofski.

I think MAD made some bad business decisions in recent years. Probably this can be blamed on being owned by the Warner octopus. In addition to the ill-advised startup of another mag (MAD Kids), before that they erred by going to all-color and, even worse, they decided to include (blecch!) ads! Really BAD ads, too. Then a few issues ago, they made another idiotic move and started using paper stock that’s flimsy and just plain crappy. I will continue subscribing anyway, but I do hope they can see fit to reverse these defects as they move to a quarterly schedule.

#6 Tom Richmond
January/25/2009
@ 11:41 am

re: Jeff Staton’s comment.

I suppose that, since virtually EVERY magazine on the news stands is experiencing the same dramatic drop in circulation as MAD has endured since the 70’s, by your logic their content must also be in decline and to blame. I understand the quality of naked women has dropped substantially, which is of course the reason Playboy and Penthouse sell a fraction of the copies they used to. Hold up a graph of circulation figures for any long term magazine since 1970 and every one will show the same steady decline and most the rapid drop of the last 10 years.

Cost cutting moves by MAD’s corporate parent resulted in a loss of freelance-driven content in MAD, but blaming the struggles of the magazine on “degradation of content” is ridiculous and ignoring the problems shared by all magazines today.

I would argue that if you magically transported the greatest of MAD’s artists and writers at the very height of their skills to 2009 and had them do all the magazine’s content, MAD would still be struggling to sell copies in this marketplace.

#7 Mike Peterson
January/25/2009
@ 1:31 pm

“I would argue that if you magically transported the greatest of MAD?s artists and writers at the very height of their skills to 2009 and had them do all the magazine?s content, MAD would still be struggling to sell copies in this marketplace.”

Well, yes, in part because their demographic is absolutely in the “information wants to be free” age group. And in part because, while MAD had a select audience, it was never quite as large as it might have been and the magazine was kind of a shoestring operation that, IIRC, had transfusions of angel-capital from time to time.

But mostly because, at its height, it was fresh and unique. Think about what else was going on at the time — have you heard anything fresh and unique from Stan Freburg or Shelley Berman in the last 30 years? More to the point, have you heard anyone trying to BE Stan Freburg or Shelley Berman and doing very well at it?

My staff is made up of 20-somethings and a couple of 30-somethings, and the other day we had a news item that Garrison Keillor was coming to town. Nobody much cared, but when someone mentioned the Capitol Steps, there was a collective groan and someone said, “And who’s that guy with the piano? Mark Russell!” and there was a larger groan from the few who knew who he was, and blanks from the majority.

I don’t know whether a large number of today’s younger readers actually think MAD is lame — I know at least one quite hip and original guy in their generation who writes for it — but I wonder how many of them want to put down their cold, hard cash to read it? I’m just not convinced the format works as well as it did back then, whoever is doing the actual creative work.

#8 Ted Rall
January/25/2009
@ 4:18 pm

I’m self-interested–I’ve been doing strips for MAD for the last several years–but aside from me, I think the current crew of MAD artists ranks alongside their greats from the 1950s and 1960s. Different times, different artists. If you don’t like what the mag is doing now, it has less to do with them than with you.

#9 Ted Dawson
January/25/2009
@ 7:41 pm

Mad is having trouble partially because of media giants who glut the market and have a scissor-hold on distribution (one particular corporation publishes over 300 different magazines!). We have fewer individuals and more corporations deciding what magazines are carried. It’s worsened by having so many chain stores, which further limits consumers’ choices.

When you actually make magazines and comic books available to your target readership, you just might sell your wares. But how can kids and young adults make decisions on what to read when they can’t find these magazines any longer, like we could when we were younger? MAD isn’t the staple of the magazine rack it once was.

Likewise with newspapers. Used to be, I could find a newspaper vending machine practically every where. I could make paper purchases impulsively. (Once in a while I see a vending machine but it’s kinda sad because the papers are so small they don’t even fit.) Now it’s practically been made a challenge to buy a newspaper.

Maybe I’m sounding like an “in my day” old fart, but some things are just common sense; If people can’t find your publication, they can’t buy it.

#10 Ted Dawson
January/25/2009
@ 7:47 pm

On the other hand, this is probably just business-as-usual with the usual gang of idiots at Time-Wormer. I sure hope they don’t end up buying Archie Comics and ruin it, too.

#11 Mike Peterson
January/25/2009
@ 8:47 pm

“If you don?t like what the mag is doing now, it has less to do with them than with you.”

That’s pretty much what the poets say, as they hand out their little chapbooks on street corners.

#12 Randy Glasbergen
January/26/2009
@ 7:30 am

When I was a kid, Mad was displayed prominently in the window of the corner cigar/candy/magazine store. They carried several copies each month and the window display let us know when a new issue had arrived. (Likewise for Archie, Superman, Tiger Beat, Time Magazine, Life, etc.) The corner magazine store was torn down 30 years ago and I don’t remember the last time I saw a copy of Mad for sale anywhere. That has to have something to do with its decline. You can’t buy what you can’t find.

#13 Tom Heintjes
January/27/2009
@ 8:10 am

I still see MAD for sale (cheap!) on our grocery store’s magazine rack. I told my wife last night that MAD was dropping to quarterly frequency, and she said, “I didn’t know it was still being published.” Sigh.

#14 Kyle
June/10/2009
@ 7:29 pm

I just started to read mad a few years ago (I’m 13) and I thought it was funny and not. I got all the jokes but some of them were not at all funny. It was a magazine I always looked forward to reading on a plane or car ride and I’m sad to see there will only be 4 a year now.

#15 Eric Smith
July/25/2010
@ 2:53 pm

I think Bill Gaines is rolling over in his grave at the Mad Magazine of today. The changes the magazine has gone through since his passing really makes me sad. I started reading Mad around 1979-1980. It wasnt something I read every month, but I convinced my mom to buy me an issue (usually a super special) when I would go grocery shopping with her. As I got a little older, I bought it more frequently, then during my high school and college years, I pretty much stopped, but would flip through it at a newstand, etc. in passing.

I was in college when Bill passed and I dont think I new about it until later, when I noticed how Mad was changing. I was noticing that my favorite art from the “usual gang of idiots” didn’t quite look the same either. But, no one can blame the that on anything but time and the Grim Reaper. I hated to see the magazine start taking advertising and the color pages. I also really hated to see the logo change to an italicized version of itself. And, rolling it into DC comics, while probably a logical thing to do since it’s owned by Warner anyhow, just seemed like the final nail in the coffin to me.

I convinced myself to go pick up the latest issue today-issue #504. $5.99! Unfortunately, the joke by Gaines and co. of the content of the mag being garbage is pretty much no longer a joke, but truth. I will admit, I found some stuff funny and did laugh out loud (that’s LOL for all you whipper snapping NOOBS). Anyway, I know I sound like a bitter, pathetic old fart bent on nostalgia, but I think the fact the mag is going quarterly may show that I may not just be full of old-far-nostalgic b.s.

I would also like to say that the interior layout is utter chaos. It’s horrible, actually. The globally center-aligned text looks bad. There are some pretty bad font choices as well. I also miss the verbage that runs under the Department heads at the top. Only a few stories actually had any text under those.

The art does not come anywhere CLOSE to the art that used to be in the mag by artists like Drucker, Davis, Woodbridge, Torres, Berg, Martin, etc. I loved being able to pick up a Mad and see all the familiar art work. It was like going to a special place everytime I opened an issue. That place does not exist, and I think that it won’t exist for the young readers now, because, from what I have seen over the past 10 years or so when I have conviced myself to give Mad another chance, there’s no standard to the art or continuity. I think having that usual gang of idiots that were classically trained, AMAZING artists that were with the magazine for so long is what made Mad a staple. Gaines knew what he was doing. Having a corporate giant running the show is not good. I hope the corporate giant can understand this and make changes that will make Mad the staple it once was. I loved Mad and I want to love it again.

I agree with a lot of the statements already posted about what is wrong with Mad.

And so that I do not go out on a negative note, I would like to state that I thought the cover concept for issue 504 is great, eventhough I prefer traditionally painted covers/illustrations any day over digitally painted ones, but I think the cover illustrations are typically fantastic.I am glad to see Sergio Aragone is still with the book (i hate the computer coloring of his work. It looks really cheap-not in the Mad way, but in a BAD way. Alright, I said I wasn’t going to be negative), I like the A-Team Tweets. Thumbs up there. I lked the “Triple By-pass” ad (probably because DeBartolo wrote it). The “9 Unmistakable Signs…” piece was funny (the layout is not so good, though-visual nightmare-you guys can stop trying to “think out of the box” so much. It’s OKAY to run a head at the TOP of the piece. Not every piece has to look like it’s trying to take “The Lighter Side Of…’s” place. Oops, I am being negative again. Let’s just say I am giving some constructive criticism.

Anyway, if you read this, thanks. If you work at or for Mad and read this, I hope you aren’t offended, but realize that I am some one who loved Mad very much. I can accept change, but I want it to be GOOD change (and preferably in paper monies and not those nickels and dimes).

Cheers.

#16 Eric Smith
July/25/2010
@ 2:58 pm

I forgot to proofread before i hit send…sorry for the type-os and bad grammar.

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