MAD is always offering premiums (i.e. toys or other collectibles) to entice new subscribers. In the past that’s meant Alfred keycahins, MAD decks of cards, pins and other goodies. Right now they are offering a unique and pretty cool premium with a new subscription… a mint copy of MAD # 166, the cover of which is shown above.
This issue has a sorted and lurid history. According to Franks Jacob‘s book MAD: Cover to Cover:
“What started as an in-house joke, the premise for this cover was determined “usable”. The tag line for this “finger cover” originally read: “MAD- Always Number One in Good Taste!” but was later altered..”
No reason given for the alteration. This cover was a big departure for MAD, which tended to avoid controversial images and straddled the line between safe and shocking without crossing it. Many retailers refused to display this issue, and sales were dismal. The story goes that Bill Gaines ended up with boxes and boxes of unshipped or returned copies which he put in a vault to collect dust.
That vault has been opened. I’m not sure if Geraldo did the honors, or James Cameron. Either way they didn’t find anything of any value… except a whole lot of copies of MAD #166. So, the folks at MAD decided to give them away with new subscriptions, complete with a nifty Official MAD Certificate of Authenticity signed by shameless MAD editor John Ficarra. I was surprised to find a copy in with my usual package of MAD comps this month. It really is an original, unread, mint copy of #166.
This is a pretty cool little promo on several fronts. First, while this issue isn’t really worth anything, it is over 30 years old and looks and reads brand new (except for that intoxicating old paper smell from the years of storage). Second, it’s a great classic issue of MAD, with a parody of “American Graffiti” by Mort Drucker and Larry Siegel, and one of M*A*S*H by Angelo Torres and Stan Hart. There are also contributions by classic MAD contributors like Sergio Aragon?¬©s, Jack Davis, Bob Clark, Frank Jacobs, Don Martin, Antonio Prohias, Al Jaffee, Jack Rickard and others.
Not your run-of-the-mill promo. Now go get your subscription so MAD can afford my outrageous page rate!!
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