Back when I was briefly working for Cracked I did the artwork on a few parodies written by Barry Dutter. I enjoyed Barry’s writing and thought he came up with some pretty good gags and observations on the films.
Cracked was doomed and did not run for very long under the Dick Kulpa era for several reasons, many of which I examined here. Barry left the magazine and started his own publication called GAG! with issue # 1 coming out in 2004. He just published his second issue… er… actually it’s another #1…. here in 2007. Barry and I still keep in contact a little, and I got a copy sent to me just the other day.
The worst part of the downfall of Cracked was the fact that a lot of pretty talented cartoonists lost a place to get their humorous work published. MAD is pretty much the only humor publication based on cartooning out there now, and it’s only got so many pages a year to go around. Even in it’s heyday Cracked was never up to MAD‘s standards in terms of quality of art and writing (with a few rare exceptions like Don Martin, John Severin and a few others) but it still had some funny stuff and some very good art. Cracked once paid pretty well also… that all ended when it was bought by American Media.
Barry’s GAG! features several of the better artists and writers from the last era of Cracked (I don’t count the thinly disguised and virtually art-less Maxim rip-off Cracked of the very last few issues). There also appears a number of caricaturists and cartoonists from other sources that have contributed to this new issue. I was glad to see two pieces by my old friend Chuck Senties as well as a few other National Caricaturist Network members/alumni. The magazine is a combination of classic MAD-like gag articles and parodies with other text driven articles and stories. Also interspersed are a few cheesecake pics of bikini bimbos. The highlights of the issue for me were “Things for King Kong to do in New York” with excellent cartooning by Jared Phillips, The “Star Wars: Episiode III” parody and Rich Heddon‘s “Ralf the Rat”. Unfortunately it suffers from the long time between production issues, and none of the topics of the satire are very current. “King Kong”, “Batman Begins”, “Star Wars: Episode III” and other films that are targets in GAG! are very old news. Hopefully Barry will sell enough issues to produce another #1 sometime in the near future. There is never anything wrong with having a printed venue for cartoonists to showcase their work.
It may have a vanity press feel to it but GAG! is a fun magazine that is worth a look. You can get more info and order a copy on the GAG! Magazine website.
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