Back in 2001, much to the chagrin of many long-time fans, MAD began running advertisements in the magazine. Economic realities had to be faced, and the MAD team felt the magazine needed to be updated to color and better paper if they were to interest young readers. They needed revenues to do that and ads were the simplest solution. The concerns people had that MAD‘s ability to be impartial in it’s skewering of corporate America were proven to be unfounded… they went on doing what they’d always done with the same gleeful zeal no matter who was paying to put an ad in the magazine.
There was a brief period of time that MAD was also doing some interesting advertising projects of their own, apart from running standard ads. Twice they had regular issues contain an inserted “mini-MAD” publication of 6-8 pages that contained material created in the MAD style, often riffing on well-known features, that promoted a single product. I did work on both of those inserts.
The first one was for Ballpark Franks. The hot-dog brand had a really odd ad campaign running at the time in TV commercials, where a person would be walking by another person who was eating a Ballpark Frank, and this muscular, hairy arm would come out of the passer-by’s stomach and snatch away the hot dog. This mini-MAD insert, which went into a number of DC comic books as well as the newsstand versions of MAD #480 (for some reason the subscription versions did not get it), had a MAD cover, six pages of “content” and then a back page ad with the guy and the arm. The “content” was done by MAD artists (myself, Sergio Aragones, Hermann Mejia and Sam Viviano) and were gags about the arm/hunger concept. I did the cover. Here’s a look at my contributions:
Sergio did two pages of “A MAD Look at Hunger”, with several gags about the arm and hotdogs. Hermann and Sam collaborated on two pages of “The Museum of Hunger”, with several famous pieces of art redone to include the arm at a hotdog (American Gothic, David, The Scream, etc.). Mine is of course a send up of “The March of Progress” image (not my concept, just my art), here retitled “The Evolution of Hunger”.
We did one other of these inserted mini-mags, this time to promote a comedy troupe. I’ll share that one next week!
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