MAD Magazine fandom lost a really fantastic source of joy and MAD scholars lost a really fantastic resource this past weekend when the MAD Cover Site shut its digital doors forever. All that’s left of its seemingly endless MAD data is a placeholder.
The MAD Cover Site was the individual effort of one person, MAD Superfan Doug Gilford. Doug started it on Aug 17th, 1997 as part of the late Dick Hanchette‘s Collectmad.com website. It began as a collection of scans of the all the covers of MAD through the years, along with a list of each issues highlights (or lowlights depending on your perspective). Doug began adding lists of all the movie and TV parodies that had appeared, in alphabetical order with the real movie or show title and the issue in which it appeared. Over the years it expanded, including the full contents of each issue and higher resolution scans of covers, special issue covers and contents, MAD book lists and a lot more. In the last couple of years he started a MAD contributor database, where you could look up any major writer or artist and find a list of the features they worked on , which issue it appeared in and which collaborator (if any) they worked with. I’m especially going to miss that feature, because I would often use it to check and see the title of something I worked on or who was the writer on that particular piece. I have my own personal list of such info, but visiting Doug’s site was always a joy and I found myself clicking links to see the credits of writers I’d worked with and remembering pieces I’d read in MAD years ago.
Doug just suddenly announced he was shutting it down, and within a couple of weeks all those countless hours of work collecting, researching and listing was gone. Well, you can use the Web Archive.org resource to see “snapshots” of it over the years… Here’s what it looked like in 1998, and here is the last snapshot when everything was still active (although not all links work). While those archives last you can still appreciate the enormous amount of work Doug put in for nothing but his love of the magazine.
So, why did it end? Doug really doesn’t elaborate, but perhaps it became too much work for not enough return. Lack of appreciation, both tangible and intangible, eventually wears one down when doing a truly thankless task. Or perhaps Doug’s life priorities just demanded he stop, and if he could he would have kept going. Maybe it’s a little of both. No one knows but Doug.
At least we still have Mike Slaubaugh‘s MAD Lists!
All I know is I visited Doug’s site often, and marveled at his attention to detail, his seemingly tireless effort to be accurate and thorough with his data, and his quest to be as complete as possible. He did more to preserve the history of MAD than just about anyone I know. Thank you, Doug, for seventeen years of informative fun and invaluable resource. Stay MAD.
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