Tag: Mad Magazine

Brainiac On Banjo: Mad About Claptrap

Brainiac On Banjo: Mad About Claptrap


I’m sick and tired of sitting back listening to all of your claptrap. If you could get me to take the rap, I guarantee you’d leave me with a backslap. “Angry,” written by Paul McCartney and Eric Stewart.

Claptrap— Idiotic Parodies of Iconic Films, by Desmond Devlin and Tom Richmond, published by Deadline Demon Publishing and available from the artist. If you’re looking to use up some credit card points, sorry: as of this writing, Amazon is sold out.

Like many mischievous baby boomers, I learned how to mischief from my addiction to Mad Magazine. I discovered Mad in my sister’s comics pile. The first issue I found was Mad #40, July 1958 (I was seven years old) and by the time #41 came out my subscription copy was delivered to the family mailbox. I don’t recall how I conned my parents into that subscription, but I presume I was so damn obnoxious they mailed off the check just to shut me up. This became my time-honored technique for everything.

I learned a lot from Mad — for example, how to pronounce “idiot.” The magazine affirmed my most obnoxious tendencies. It sanctioned and encouraged my more whimsical aggressions and did a great deal to make me the mannish geriatric boy I am today. I remain quite grateful to “the usual gang of idiots.”

But if there was one thing that bothered me about Mad, it was their movie parodies. Not that I didn’t enjoy them — hell yes I did! — but by the time each issue came out they were pretty dated. One of the hidden rules of parody: timeliness is funny. Now I can add to this another hidden rule: so is timelessness.

Eventually, Mad Magazine went the way of all flesh and right into reprints. It had grown a bit dusty and needed some new energy, and despite a massive boost from new editor Bill Morrison (of Bongo/Simpsons/Futurama fame) the powers that were running Warner Bros. that week plugged the cash flow. In terms of that wonderfully juvenile ability to shove establishment faces into their own fecal matter, Mad had been eclipsed by Beavis and Butt-head, The Simpsons, South Park, various HBO comedy specials, and the MAD TV show that was more-or-less based on Mad. Well, as George Harrison intoned, all things must pass. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Mad About Claptrap”

Brainiac On Banjo: What Goes Around…

I kicked the blankets on the floor. Turned my pillow upside down. I never never did before, ‘bause I was tossin’ and turnin’, turnin’ and tossin’,a-tossin’ and turnin’ all night. “Tossin’ and Turnin'” written by Malou Rene, Richard A Ziegler, and Ritchie Adams.

Back in 1961, John Kennedy was President, Wagon Train, Bonanza and Gunsmoke were America’s top three television shows, the year’s top three tunes were “Tossin’ and Turnin'” by Bobby Lewis, “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline, and “Michael” (no relation) by The Highwaymen, and Don Martin was covering Mad Magazine with a tale of its time and ours. Ahhh, great days.

Please have yourself a very aspirational 2024. Work hard at it. Save the world.

It’s the only place we’ve got.

Brainiac On Banjo #047: Getting Mad For The Last Time?

Brainiac On Banjo #047: Getting Mad For The Last Time?

That Mad Magazine cover shot to your left (well, it’s to my left) with the old-timey Harvey Kurtzman logo is on what purports to be their final mostly new-content issue. If it looks familiar and you haven’t been to the supermarket in the past five days, you may have noticed it in Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

The movie is set in 1969 and it’s about a nearly washed-up television actor best known (in the storyline) for his headlining a black and white western show the decade before. That’s the movie actor Leo DiCaprio playing television actor Rick Dalton there on the cover; the movie also stars Brad Pitt as Dalton’s stuntman/best friend, and Harley Quinn’s Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. Comics fans might be amused to know that it also costars the 1970s Spider-Man, Nicholas Hammond, as well as Riverdale’s Luke Perry in what is, if I’m not mistaken, his final performance. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #047: Getting Mad For The Last Time?”

Brainiac On Banjo #042: We’re Not Getting Mad…

Brainiac On Banjo #042: We’re Not Getting Mad…

All your children are poor unfortunate victims of lies you believe / A plague upon your ignorance that keeps the young from the truth they deserve. – Frank Zappa, “What’s The Ugliest Part of Your Body?”

For those who have been following the long and lingering death of Mad Magazine, a couple days ago things took another turn for the worse when it was announced that after two more inventory-burning issues, the legendary publication would stop running new material.

That’s sad. 67 years ago Mad changed the nature of our culture, being the first comic book to confront our nation’s culture and its many foibles head-on. It was an important part of a vital movement in the 1950s spawned by innovators such as Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory, Second City, Ernie Kovacs and Moms Mabley. Mad was all the more important by being the first specifically oriented to those not yet old enough to vote. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #042: We’re Not Getting Mad…”

Brainiac On Banjo #020: Life, Hope, and Funny Books

Brainiac On Banjo #020: Life, Hope, and Funny Books

Batton

I am reminded of a conversation I had with Batton Lash several years ago. We were at one of those massive comics conventions – after 51 years they now all blur together into one unending conflation of backpacks, unpassable aisles, and excessive body heat. As you may know, Batton died this weekend and our obituary speaks for itself.

That conversation probably started out with several insulting but vaguely clever comments and then went on to my trying to get him to do another Munden’s Bar story. That’s me as an editor on autopilot: I see great talent and I think of it as a piece of birthday cake. But there’s at least one difference between people and birthday cake – the former might engage me in conversation. And, of course, that’s one of the great pleasures of my job. I prefer the sugar buzz from conversation.

Harvey

Somehow our discussion evolved into my desire to do a contemporary funny book, by which I really mean “funny.” In a medium that calls itself “comic” but is largely full of violent conflict, I feel the need to be specific. Anyway, the challenge is to create a project worthy of the 21st century reader’s time but without any obvious nod to Harvey Kurtzman and Mad Comics.  Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #020: Life, Hope, and Funny Books”