The MAD Cover Shuffle

October 31st, 2009 | Posted in MAD Magazine

Over at Mark Evanier‘s excellent blog, NEWS FROM ME, he posted a little historical fact about how MAD switched out the cover of issue #122 after Robert Kennedy‘s assassination:

The original cover of #122
The original cover of #122

The revised cover
The revised cover

The original cover showed a series of Mort Drucker caricatures of the those people considered the main candidates for president after Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek re-election. After the cover was completed Robert Kennedy was assassinated, and that led to MAD replacing him with Alfred in the upper right balloon.

This is not the only time such a thing has happened. In 1991, MAD had intended to run this cover showing President George H.W. Bush doing something naughty to a faux American flag:

The original cover of #300
The original cover of #300

Shortly thereafter the Gulf War broke out. For obvious reasons MAD decided to nix that cover and instead ran this one:

The revised MAD #300 cover
The revised MAD #300 cover

Most recently, and most problematic, was the cover of MAD #411 from 2001. This was the original cover as done by artist John Caldwell:

The original cover for #411
The original cover for #411

This issue was at the press and this cover had already been printed as was preparing to be bound when the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed on Sept. 11th, 2001. The MAD editors realized that the cover of MAD scheduled to go to the newsstands in just a few weeks showed (although innocently as part of the NYC marathon) a crowd of people running through the streets of New York, police tape and a dead body on the pavement. They quickly, and at great expense and some delay, swapped to the following cover:

The new cover of #411
The new cover of #411

As it happened I discovered that copies of the original cover had been stolen from the printer, presumably from some employee, and were being sold on eBay as a collector’s item. I alerted the MAD staff about this and they were none too happy, as you can imagine.

Thanks to Doug Gilford‘s MAD Cover Site for the images above.

Comments

  1. bishopslikepawn says:

    new mad #411 looks like new mad #300 blown up and made more blue. But i guess it was last minute. In hindsight maybe they could have run old mad #300 with face updated …

  2. John Read says:

    I wonder, was Caldwell’s marathon cover art EVER used?

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