Sunday Mailbag

July 18th, 2010 | Posted in MAD Magazine

Q: Why all the secrecy involving the MAD TV show and especially the magazine? I don’t see why you can’t at least say what movie [or TV show or other subject] you are working on for MAD… it’s not like they have any competition out there that might ‘scoop’ them is it? As for the animated TV show, when can we expect to hear some details??

A: Sorry if it seems like there is a Maxwell Smart “Cone of Silence” paranoia surrounding things I post about sometimes. It’s not just MAD you know… almost all the publications I do work with do not want me posting images I worked on for them before they are published. For that you can hardly blame them. They paid me to do the work and want to be the first to publish it. It isn’t like anyone is worried about it getting stolen somehow, or that they or I think the work is important or anything. It’s their privilege as the commissioners (??) of the work that they get to publish it first. In fact I just assume they want it that way and always wait until I get my tearsheets or I know for a fact the publication is out before I share any of the work I did online.

I think a large part of that is the viral and instantaneous nature of the internet. You have to be careful of what you say and who you say it to because one tiny post on some seemingly inconsequential little blog like this one and it can be all over the world in a matter of hours. Look what happened last November when I posted complaining about Apple’s rejection of Ray Grigg’s “Bobble Rep” iPhone app because my artwork was deemed “defamatory” to the 540 politicians I caricatured for the program. By the next day it was on Fox News, and a host of other major news and technology websites and blogs. Who knows what will catch people’s eye and become viral.

As for MAD, they like to keep the issue under wraps until it is released. It’s less fun to get that copy in the mail with no surprises at all. They do release some sneak peeks to certain internet outlets, and that is also their privilege and they get to chose what and when that happens. Totally understandable. I got into a little hot water with MAD a few years back when I published some rough sketches for an article I was working on before it was published. In fact, as it turned out due to the timing the sketches were online before MAD even saw them. They were not happy about that, and I learned my lesson about blogging things before they are published… even just cryptic individual sketches with no explanation of their significance.

As for the TV show, they are very emphatic about not giving away any details about the content or direction of the show. There is a non-disclosure agreement and strict media policy. TV is certainly a cutthroat sort of business, and I can see where they want to keep it all under wraps and debut a show with as much fanfare and mystery as possible. That said, I understand that this Saturday’s “Mad about MAD!” panel discussion at the San Diego Comic Con will feature some kind of video presentation which I hope will reveal some of the details about the upcoming show. Rest assured the second there is any clearance to share any info you’ll read about it here, and if those video clips are available online (legally) after the panel I will link to them. Beyond that, all I can say is that some segments of the show will be based on some of my caricatures/character designs, which I am quite excited about seeing.

Thanks to Richard Griffin for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. julio cesar naranjo says:

    Hi Tom its quite reasonable when the you see the changes comparing with last years schedule for MAD magazine, i think its a huge think going around and all the people involved want to make it real, and its awesome to see whats happen with all the great things that MAD has to offer and more yet to come, i hope so. Take care.


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