The World According to… Bill?

June 11th, 2007 | Posted in MAD Magazine


Two years ago there were some rumors about an HBO biopic in the works about the life of MAD and EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines. There was even the following blurb via Reuters:

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Betty Thomas is attached to direct an original HBO film about William M. Gaines, the eccentric founder of Mad Magazine. Based on the book “Mad World of William M. Gaines” by Frank Jacobs, the project is in the early stages of development at the cable channel. Thomas (“I Spy”) worked with HBO on the 1996 film “The Late Shift.”
Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

??á©Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved

Like many Hollywood projects, this one stalled in the formative stages and ended up in limbo. It looks like the project may be getting off the ground again with a different entity aquiring the rights. According to this report on, Joel Eisenberg and his Iron Mountain Media have picked up the film “life rights” of Gaines and plan to co-produce a biopic based on his life. tentatively titled, “Ghoulishly Yours, William M. Gaines”, it looks to be centered on the creation of the EC Comics horror titles and their involvement in the senate subcommittee hearings that resulted in the Comics Code Authority. I would hope there will be some parts of the film dealing with MAD.

I’ll always be very sad that I started with MAD much too late to have ever been able to meet Bill Gaines. The long time MAD contributors have never ending stories about Bill and his antics. I’ve read Frank Jacobs‘ book “The MAD World of William M. Gaines” and gotten some first hand stories about Bill from those who knew him best. His story would be terrific for a film, from his reluctant involvement in his dad’s comic book business to his creation of the EC horror titles and the resulting flap with the congressional hearings, to the creation of MAD and his increasing eccentricities and obsessive-compulsive behaviors later in life. He was a very unique person. I can see it being like an “American Splendor” kind of story.

Bring on the speculation as to who would play the main characters. A few years ago when the first talk of such a project began, there was some mention of Drew Carey playing Gaines. Drew Carey looks like a young Gaines, but he can’t act. He does one character… himself. Maybe that’s what Bill was like back then. I don’t know. I’m wondering who will play Nick Meglin, Jack Davis or Dick DeBartolo? These are people I know in real life. It will be surreal to see someone playing them on TV. Maybe Josh Harnett could play the young Dick De… he could shave off half his eyebrows and glue them to his upper lip for the mustache!


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New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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