Tom Richmond does a great job of explaining the perspective on the news from the point of view of a current illustrator for the magazine. He says many of the naysayers don’t understand the publishing industry or haven’t read it in a long time.
Referencing the changes to the publishing industry are similar to that of the Television industry. The networks aren’t getting nearly the ratings they did in the 50’s-80’s merely because of the explosion of digital cable television and the internet. With so many more options for news/entertainment, the market has been fragmented.
But being one who hasn’t picked up a Mad for several years and haven’t bought every copy since I was a kid, I purchase the most recent copy. (see the cover on Tom’s blog).
Here is what I think:
1. Overall…great stuff. Mad, Cracked and the daily newspaper comics helped me get excited about learning to read because there were a lot of sight gags that didn’t require much reading to figure it out. Now that I am an avid reader, the quick gags are still a favorite.
2. Many lament the loss of the “old writers and illustrators”. I miss Dave Berg and Don Martin too but am glad to see Al Jaffee and Sergio Aragones are still active. But moving past the nostalgia, I don’t think the new illustrators/writers have lost anything (loved “When Adults Say”, “Mad word of…”, and “Monroe).
3. For those who think it has become too political and esp anti-Bush. I can’t speak for much of the content during the Bush Admin but I hope overall the magazine doesn’t try to become political satire versus just satire. From this issue, sure there were Obama sections but it was spread throughout and didn’t seem overly abundant. It’s funny how you can find those on the Left and the Right talking up the current issue though.
Unlike a Bill Maher, I think Mad has proven over the decades that its intent is to skewer all views and not just the one’s its individual writers agree with.
4. For those who are upset about advertising. I don’t mind the ads because they fill up an entire page therefore not diluting the content of what I am trying to read and there were FOUR…count em FOUR paid ads in the entire magazine. Get over yourself.
5. No parodies. Ok I know I am in the minority of those who were never big on the Parodies of Movies/TV but esp those I never saw, I couldn’t relate to the humor. (Plus typically too many words)
What didn’t work for me:
1. Spy versus Spy. Love the writing and drawing of the classic strip now done by Peter Kuper. Just not a big fan of the airbrushed coloring. I had to look closely at the page to realize that the colored print on the page simply hadn’t smudged from the printing press.
2. An ad for Tatoo Removal. I mean who is the target audience for Mad. At first I was trying to tell if it was a classic spoof ad but realized it was real. Damn 12 year olds and their tattoo regret.
3. What’s the difference feature. Not original enough to stay a Mad staple.
4. Outtakes. This feature shows actual photos from film/tv (in this case Twilight) and puts funny photo captions on them. Several of them were funny but don’t think you can replace the illustrators.
5. I enjoy Sergio Aragones‘ Mad Marginals. The small sight gags in the margins of different pages. HOWEVER, I swear some of them I remember from 1982.