MAD Goes Digital!

March 30th, 2012 | Posted in News

A couple of months ago I mentioned that MAD was now requiring me to do all my artwork for the magazine sans word boxes, but I couldn’t tell you why just yet.

Well, the cat’s out of the bag.

Today DC Entertainment and MAD Magazine announced the planned release of a new MAD Magazine iPad app complete with interactive features and exclusive content. The app is scheduled to be released on April Fool’s Day (Alfred E. Neuman’s birthday, no less), and will be free to download through the iTunes App Store. The MAD app will include a mixture of free and paid content, including a free preview of the magazine:

 From DC Entertainment:

“We’re delighted to bring MAD to the iPad,” said MAD Editor John Ficarra. “We think the MAD app may be just the thing to turn the struggling iPad around and make it successful –though most experts think it may be just the thing that kills it altogether.”

The MAD app will include interactive versions of all current issues, access to a library of back issues and books, animated covers and “fold-in” pages, promo videos from the hit Cartoon Network show, MAD, and a link to MAD‘s popular blog The Idiotical. In addition to the regular issue interactive “fold-in,” digital issues will also include a second, classic interactive “fold-in” from a past issue. Fans of Sergio Aragones’ MAD Marginals will enjoy a feature that allows readers to “pop-up” the margin artwork for a larger, more detailed view.

While the app will mirror all editorial components in print issues, many digital versions will include interactive elements. For example, the digital version of the current issue’s “MAD‘s Make Your Own Twilight Movie” lets readers create multiple storylines and highlights their choices as they make them for a ridiculous visual punch line.

The app itself is free, and with it you can purchase new digital issues of MAD Magazine for $4.99, or back issues for $1.99. Digital readers can also choose a per issue digital subscription for $1.99 per issue, or pay an upfront annual fee of $9.99. All future print issues of the magazine will be available for purchase day-and-date within the app. Here’s the best part:

Current print subscribers will receive a free digital subscription.

I’ve been saying all along that print publications need to move into the digital age using a similar newsstand/subscription model: charging a higher per-issue price but a cheaper subscription price, AND give anyone with a print subscription a free digital subscription to both transition print folks to digital AND to encourage digital subscribers to go ahead and get the print edition as well.

This is terrific news, and another example of MAD‘s efforts to connect to the next generation of fans, much like their very successful animated show on the Cartoon Network, which just announced they are returning for a third season. I’m looking forward to seeing my work on the iPad. I am still not entirely clear on why they wanted me to do “full art” and stop inking in, and thus drawing and coloring around, the word boxes. I was told it has something to do with the way the word boxes/balloons will appear on the pages…some kind of animation where there is a second that the art has no word balloons. We shall see on April 1st!


  1. Mark Engblom says:

    I can’t tell you how good it feels to see Alfred E. Newman’s moronic mug smiling out at me from an iPad screen! It’s cool to see these grand old institutions morphing into the new technology (the smart ones, at least). Well, as smart as anyone who works for MAD can BE, that is. 😉

  2. VEe! says:

    Annual fee of $9.99 . . . sounds great to me!

  3. Steve Pissocra says:

    This seems like the opposite of the Cond?© Nast approach. Smart call.

  4. Jose D. says:

    Since the iPad 1, I looked forward to it the most for reading comics. Kudos to the Usual Gang Of Idiots for offering this for free to Paid subscribers of the print magazine. I know Wired does this as well, this is how ALL digital subscriptions should be handled.

  5. Kyle Maloney says:

    No. iPhone version of the app I take it? I still need to get me an iPad.

    • Tom says:

      Nope, as far as I can tell no iPod Touch/iPhone or smartphone versions of any kind.

      I do not fault DC for choosing to only produce these kinds of reader apps for tablets only. Personally I do not believe anybody who says they find it easy/enjoy reading anything more than emails or Tweets on a smartphone. I can;t stand using my iPhone to read websites or anything with more than a few lines of text. Let’s face it, the screens are too small. They are good for occasional convenient internet browsing but lousy for anything approaching an enjoyable reading experience, and MAD is supposed be enjoyable to read. It is art intensive, and squeezing it into a 4 inch screen just because you CAN is doing a disservice to both the creators and the readers, IMO.

      Hopefully DC will be producing the iMad app for other platforms, because the iPad isn’t the only game in town. Still, it’s the 900 lb gorilla in the room, so it makes sense to start there.

  6. Cliff Roth says:

    I am guessing they wanted the artwork sans word balloons for scaling reasons. Also if they have it so the artwork rotates with the Ipad than the aspect ratio would be different. I could be wrong though.


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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