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Tom Richmond opines on MAD’s new quarterly status

As promised, MAD Magazine artist Tom Richmond has posted a lengthy and insightful article on the recent announcement that MAD Magazine was dropping to a quarterly after this April.

MAD’s real problem is one they cannot avoid… they are a magazine. Name me a single magazine, outside tabloid trash peddlers, that isn’t struggling badly right now. I suppose that’s all about content also, right? TV Guide used to sell over 20 million copies a WEEK, and now they sell about 3 million copies… I suppose the quality of their TV schedules has badly declined. Playboy used to sell over 7 million copies an issue and today they are at 3 million copies…. of course we all know the quality of naked women has decreased dramatically since the 70’s. Newspapers are in serious trouble right now, and I guess we can blame that on the poor quality of news reporting and writing in the papers, yes?

Community Comments

#1 Mark Engblom
January/26/2009
@ 8:34 am

As I commented at Tom’s site, I blame most of MAD’s decline on today’s surplus of snarky, irreverent humor.

I think the prime appeal of MAD in its first few decades (during the straight-laced 50?s and early 60?s) was that it was simply one of the only places?if not THE only place?for kids and teens to enjoy irreverent parody and snarky societal commentary. Once the 70?s rolled around, I think this spirit of irreverence had begun spreading out into other formats and venues, to the point were here in the 21st century, kids marinade in irreverent, snarky humor 24/7. Think about it: after several decades of stuff like Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park on TV, added together with various internet humor internet sites (Funny or Die, countless YouTube videos), and you realize the desire for the kind of irreverent humor pioneered by MAD is an itch that?s more than scratched by today?s firehose-stream of it from dozens of different sources. So, when MAD goes from being the ONLY place to get your fix of satire and parody to one of literally hundreds (if not thousands), it?s no wonder it gets lost in the shuffle. It?s too bad?.and the challenge for MAD is to once again grab the miniscule attention spans of today?s humor-saturated youth.

#2 Steve Greenberg
January/26/2009
@ 9:49 am

I think Mad also suffers from the aging-demographic problem faced by, say, radio stations: grow older with your original, loyal fan base (with Mad, the Baby Boomers who read it as kids in the late 1950s-early 1960s), and later be seen by younger people as something for the “older” crowd? Or keep changing to stay with the original demographic and lose the original fans?

Mad was hit with a double-whammy: the original base felt they “outgrew” Mad and stopped subscribing, but their kids still saw it as their parent’s magazine. Mad has changed its sense of humor to the crasser sensibilities of these times, which put off some of those older readers, but hasn’t sufficiently overcome the old image to attract enough of the younger readers.

And then add in the economic stresses hitting all magazines…

#3 Jeff Hawley
January/26/2009
@ 8:42 pm

I’m a long-time reader who still enjoys and admires the humor and art in MAD. I don’t think MAD’s core content has declined significantly in quality over the years, and it could be argued that it may have even improved in some ways. I do think their recent decisions to use color, bringing ads on board, and using poor paper stock have the effect of wrapping MAD in a veneer of poor quality, and that’s unfortunate. Those decisions may not have been the best for their business, but they may be minor in comparison to what’s going on with the market and economy for all of us, and periodicals in particular. But wait a second: this is MAD we’re talking about. For incisive wit, MAD’s only real peer is, I believe, The Colbert Report. The world being what it is, we will need satire more than ever. I for one would never count the usual gang of idiots out, and am looking forward to seeing what they come up with the new quarterly.

#4 mike crachiolo
January/26/2009
@ 10:57 pm

i will never stop reading mad i was turned on to it by an older cousin in the late 50’s and have been a fan ever since, but i am glad they are getting rid of mad kids that sounded too wimpish to me

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