Q: Has a director ever asked MAD Magazine to do a parody of their movie? Or have you guys only ever picked films to do parodies on of your own volition?
A: I don’t know of any specific examples, but I have been told by some of the longtime Usual Gang of Idiots that more than a few movies studios/production companies would send MAD materials on their films to try and get them to do a parody of it. Not copies of the film but press packets and stuff like that. Knowing the guys at MAD I can guarantee you they never did a single parody of a movie or TV show because someone solicited it. They danced to the beat of their own drum at all times.
You might ask yourself, why would a movie or TV show want MAD to make fun of it? Publicity, of course. This was back in the days when MAD would regularly sell between one and two MILLION copies per issue. That kind of publicity was priceless.
I suspect that MAD‘s method of choosing what films or TV shows got skewered back in the day was the same as it is today–the editorial staff gets together and decides who gets ridiculed. The only criteria I know for sure was applied was this: they wanted to make sure they did TV shows and films that were popular enough that a lot of people actually watched them.
Longtime MAD editor Nick Meglin and I were once discussing how MAD decided what to spoof when he asked me “Ever see a movie called “Bunny Lake is Missing?”
“No”, I said.
“Neither had anyone else, especially not our readers,” he replied. “But we did a satire of it.”
He went on to say it isn’t very entertaining to read a spoof of a film you had never seen or even really knew anything about. MAD tries to make sure the subject of their spoofs are popular enough shows that readers will at least be familiar with them, if not having seen them.
Other that trying to keep that criteria in mind, it’s just the opinions of the editors as to what gets the MAD treatment. Timing is an issue these days, with films coming and going from theaters so fast. For me, I just draws whats they tells me to draws.
Thanks to Harry Thornton 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!
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