Sunday Mailbag: MAD Animation Parodies?

May 1st, 2016 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: In the early nineties, for the first time MAD magazine started making MAD movie and television satires of animations (e.g “Batman: The Animated Series”, “The Lion King”). This continued through the decade with a couple of TV shows and a stack of Disney movies, but as soon as the nineties were over, so were the animation satires.

So, not counting the occasional crossover article like “Star Shrek”, why is it that the magazine started, and then stopped, doing satires of animated films and TV shows? And, except for the South Park movie, why did MAD never do proper satires of any of the ‘adult’ animated shows?

A: I guess there was a time in the 90’s when MAD spoofed some of the Disney animated films and a couple of TV series, but frankly I’m surprised they ever did that at all. Part of the humor of a MAD parody is using caricature and humorous comic illustration to represent the visuals of the films and show, and if they are ALREADY cartoons that part is largely lost. Sam Viviano did a nice job on several of those in exaggerating the character designs within his own style to add some humor, but still… I think MAD probably realized that despite the popularity of these films and shows their spoofs were not really working and gave up.

As to the “adult” cartoon shows like “Family Guy”, “American Dad” and a few others, they are satires themselves of sitcoms and American TV. How do you do a satire of a satire? The only way is to point out the formulas and predictable nature of the satires, and that isn’t very funny.

That’s all just a bunch of guesses, though. This is really a question for the editors of MAD.

Thanks to Harry Gold for the question(s). 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. Don’t forget that the first 23 issues of Mad, in comic book form, spoofed a lot of cartoons (Starchie, Superduperman, Teddy and the Pirates, Woman Wonder, Little Orphan Melvin, etc.) and rather successfully. Of course, there were heaps and heaps of chicken fat thrown in by the likes of Will Elder and Wally Wood.

    • Demetrius Dillard says:

      That’s right, Alan! The first 23 issues of Mad did contain a lot of parodies of comic book (“Superduperman!”), comic strip (“Flesh Garden”), and cartoon characters (“Mickey Rodent!”) during its comic book incarnation. All of the spoofs were scripted by the late Harvey Kurtzman, and the late Wally Wood and the late Bill Elder were the main illustrators.

  2. I don’t know if this really counts as a satire, but I remember MAD doing a comparison of “Family Guy” and the George W. Bush administration.

  3. Demetrius Dillard says:

    I remember Mad parodying “Batman: The Animated Series” and the “X-Men” animated series during the ’90s…if memory serves, Dick DeBartolo wrote both of those spoofs; in fact, DeBartolo scripted a lot (if not all) of those Disney film parodies.


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