While I was in NYC last week for that MAD segment on the CBS morning show, I got a copy of the new 60th anniversary book Totally MAD (and a bunch of signatures from some terrific members of the “Usual Gang of Idiots” while I was at it). This book is a real treat. Even the inside flap of the dust jacket gets the MAD treatment!
I know this book wasn’t easy to put together, considering that: a) the gang at MAD did it in about three months, and b) they somehow had to take over 26,000 pages of material from the magazine’s 60 year history and select only 256 pages worth. As a result, there are no full articles that were more than two pages long, samples and reduced sized features appear, and each decade gets only around 35-40 or so pages. However the reproductions are excellent, and despite the necessary length restrictions I really think they really give readers a taste of both the best of the magazine at the time and what MAD was like during each of those decades. There are also a series of fabulous short MAD essays by Frank Jacobs, answering questions like “Who was Bill Gaines?”, “Was MAD ever sued?” and “What were the MAD trips?”, and an inserted envelope with removable prints of the twelve classic MAD covers that were deemed “The Soul of MAD.” Plus a clever introduction by Stephen Colbert and Eric Drysdale.
On a personal note, I am glad to see the book does not short change the later decades of MAD in favor of the early and brilliant Harvey Kurtzman years or the hey-day of circulation and prominence MAD enjoyed in the 60’s and 70’s. Not to take anything away from the incredible work that was done during those days, but MAD is still going and has some very strong work in it today, despite the challenges of satirizing a world that is both heavily satirical itself and “in on the joke”. I’m very
embarrassed proud to have four of my splash pages in the “2000’s” section: “Spider-Man,” “Lost”, “Extreme Makeover- Home Edition” and “30 Rock”.
Great book, available now from TIME publications.
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