Not too many people remember this, but MAD was actually a bit ahead of it’s time when it came to internet content.
Way back in the summer/fall of 2000, before blogger and Facebook and “Web 2.0”, MAD spent several months posting original content on its website, then called madmag.com. Called the “MADness of the Week”, these were specially written and drawn features that were sometimes “rollover” images or illustrations that had pop up gags, sometimes static images with text and later included flash-based shorts with limited animation. MAD had their freelancers produce the work, both writing and art, and then would produce the features and post them weekly. This led to a lot of quick turnaround jobs for freelancers. My first “published” work for MAD was actually on their website in August of 2000… an image of the major presidential candidates as contestants on “Presidential Survivor”:
On the website if you rolled over one of the figures there would be a pop-up with a goofy bio of them. I also did some football related art for another “MADness of the Week”, and another Gore caricature if I remember right. That art is long lost.
MAD also had a short lived feature on AOL’s “RED Page”, which was a special teen orientated section for subscribers. MAD did a daily gag feature that included a single cartoon. MAD paid freelancers such as myself to produce the cartoon and (presumably) to write the gags. Here are a few of the ones I did for that little project:
None of these endeavors lasted long. I think the “MADness of the Week” went for 20 plus weeks or so, and the AOL thing only lasted a month or two. It was probably just too expensive to pay freelancers to produce this work when it was generating exactly zero revenues. This was before Google Adsense (I believe) and other easier advertising to “monetize” your website… which even at its best is only a pale shadow of the kind of advertising revenues magazines and print publications were used to in the late 1990’s. Without a revenue stream having content on a website was a low priority at the time.
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