MAD’s ABCs of a School Shooting

A New York Times article features the latest MAD magazine.

Mad Magazine, the 66-year-old humor publication, has been in free fall for years — in terms of both circulation and cultural relevance.

This month, however, people as varied as the comedians John Hodgman and Patton Oswalt, as well as Lee Unkrich, a co-director of “Coco,” were heaping unlikely praise on the magazine known for anarchic satire aimed at the rich and powerful. The reason? A four-page comic strip appearing in the Halloween issue depicting 26 children, one for each letter of the alphabet, who were or would soon become victims of a school shooting.

“As damning and dark as it is beautiful,” Mr. Hodgman wrote on Twitter.

The strip, “The Ghastlygun Tinies,” is a homage to “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” the 1963 work by the American illustrator Edward Gorey, which depicted the grisly and strangely comic deaths of children in alphabetical order. “Sadly, times have changed and there’s basically one way most kids seem to die now,” an introduction to Mad’s strip said.

It begins innocuously: “A is for ALICE the young science whiz.”

As the strip continues, the words become less ambiguous — “R is for REID, valued less than a gun” — and the situations depicted become sadly familiar. “T is for TINA who’s texting her mom,” says one panel showing a girl kneeling under her desk. “V is for VINCENT who’s sheltered in place,” reads another. The strip ends with a drawing of a girl passing the graves of her classmates on the way to the school’s entrance: “Z is for ZOE who won’t be the last.”

Definitely not MAD’s usual fare.

Read the New York Times article on the making of this touching horror story by Matt Cohen (writer) and Marc Palm (artist) that contacts all involved. The piece appears in Mad’s Halloween issue.

MAD #4 (December 2018) is on sale now.



A bit of Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies below.