Book of the Weak Dept.

June 2nd, 2007 | Posted in MAD Magazine

Never one to rest on their laurels when a fatter wallet is more comfortable to rest on, MAD puts out collections in book form now and again. Some are “themed”, like the terrific MAD about the Mob and MAD about Superheroes, and some are compilations of decades like MAD about the 70’s. For a while there I was very unlucky about not being included in these collections. MAD about the Mob, a collection of features about gangsters, was ending production just as my two page “MAD look Behind the Scenes of the Sopranos” was published. Likewise my “Spider-Sham” parody missed MAD about Superheroes by a month or so. I was beginning to suspect the editors were purposefully getting these books to press before I did anything that might be included. Nothing specific lead me to this suspicion, you understand… except maybe how the MAD staff would suddenly stop talking and start snickering when I walked into the editorial room. Oh, and there was the time I accidentally got cc’d on an e-mail from Nick Meglin to John Ficarra that read, in part: “Richmond’s hack work will be in a MAD book over my DEAD BODY!”. I was later told they meant Tom Bunk, not me, but Tom’s been in plenty of books… Hmmmm. Anyway, I did finally manage to get into a MAD book with MAD about the Oscars, which featured MAD parodies of Oscar winning and nominated films. My first movie parody, “Traffecch” was included. Nick is still alive so that’s okay.

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MAD‘s newest book is a collection of political Bush bashing called The MAD War on Bush. MAD has definitely been having a field day with Ol’ Dubya the last 7 years or so. So much so they are being accused by some of being a liberal rag. I think it’s more a case of it being more fun and impactful to target the people in power rather than the second bananas. They had no problem going after Clinton and Carter in the years they were in office, and I imagine whoever the next president is MAD will happily skewer them early and often regardless of which side of the aisle they come from.

I was told I have a small piece in this book… my inauguration scene one pager from MAD #401. Rough and early work, that’s for sure, but a job that ended up being pretty unique thanks to the circumstances.

I was assigned the job in October of 2000. It was meant for the “MAD‘s 20 Dumbest Things of 2000″ feature, and it was supposed to show the new president getting sworn in amid a crowd of unhappy politicians. The problem was the deadline for the issue was the end of October, and the election was November 7th. November 8th was the “print date” of the issue, so it literally needed to go to press that day or it would be late.

What MAD had me do was two pieces of art. One had Bush getting sworn in and one Gore. Each differed only in the new president and his wife, and the loser looking upset. The rest of the background and all the other politicians remained the same. So I did both pieces, and MAD was going to call the printer on the morning of the 8th and tell them which to run.

The 8th came and went… no winner. Same with the 9th… and 10th. Then there were lawsuits, hanging chads and Katherine Harris having a bad hair life. MAD could see it might be a long time before a winner would be ‘decided’ (Dec. 12th, as it happened), so they ran 1/2 the print run with Bush winning and half with Gore winning, made fun of the fact that nobody knew who won and moved the piece up to the number 1 “Stupidest Thing” from 11th or so. This turned MAD #401 into a collectors item for some, and for others just turned their stomachs:

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