Naturally, I saved this from the trash pile. It’s “Mad,” after all –the publication that, along with Green Lantern comic books, made adolescence tolerable. Until I got a little older and started reading “Playboy,” that is.
(Yes, I said “reading” “Playboy,” although I’m not sure why. As far as my friends and I were concerned, we never read “Playboy,” although we looked at it plenty. The appearance of articles among the photos was nothing but a rumor to us.)
Anyway, back to “Mad.”
This particular copy – dog-eared, a little musty – must have belonged to my brother, P.D. By December 1979 I was long gone from both the house and from the roster of dedicated “Mad” readers (see above under: moved on to Playboy, or va-va-voom.)
But the issue has all the features I remember from my years of “Mad” readership: a brilliant movie parody drawn by Mort Drucker, goofy panels drawn by Don Martin, outstanding little cartoons in the margins drawn by Sergio Aragones – the pencil-wielding heroes of my misspent youth. This one comes a little late in the run for other “Mad”-isms I remember so fondly – the words “potrzebie” and “axolotl,” for example, appearing here and there in the magazine, or the rules for the greatest game ever, 43-Man Squamish. Some of it is wildly funny; some of it doesn’t stand the test of time, but all in all it’s a good example of late 1970’s nonsense.
It was my kidhood ambition to … well, I had a lot of ambitions. I wanted to be a lawyer, or so I thought. This was before I got a close-up look at how they had to make their livings. I also wanted to be a major league baseball player, a NASA scientist, a television star, a radio broadcaster and, in a stunning lack of imagination, a newspaperman, which is what my father did and where I eventually landed.
But mixed in with all that was a desire to somehow be a contributor to “MAD.” I imagined the magazine’s office as a place where people sat around all day saying funny things and drawing funny pictures, probably while wearing funny hats, and saw it was a perfect fit for me. After all, I liked jokes, and I was known far and wide, or at least throughout study hall, for my caricatures of our Brighton Junior High School science and agriculture teacher, Leonard Prisock.
Mostly, though, I wanted to be involved in an enterprise whose sole purpose, it seemed to me, was making fun of everything. It seemed a perfect fit with my talents.
Alas, life intervened, and I embarked on that newspaper career I mentioned previously. I did so, however, with “Mad” in my memory banks and in my attitude, which is how I eventually became a columnist who made fun of things. Nice to know my misspent adolescence paid off.
Oh, and incidentally: I also found a couple of old “Playboys” among my brother’s college papers. Funny how “Mad” held onto its charm over the years – well, mostly – while the “Playboy” magazines did not. They went into the trash heap.
I must admit the articles looked interesting, though.