I’m having a hard time finding the cover issue of this particular issue, so just imagine Alfred E Neuman wearing a lab coat. The top third of his skull has been sawn open, and held within his right hand is a stick at the end of which is his brain. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his brain is the size of a lollipop. Out of his empty skull echoes the words ‘BRAIN DROOL’, followed by a list of intellectual properties being parodied. As this Supersized edition seems to contain reprints of past parodies that have only just become relevant, these include Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Heroes, and Peanuts.
Mad magazine is either very funny, or very not funny. I suspect it represents a dialect of humour unrepresented in any other media that I consume. This was a Christmas present, and it wasn’t entirely a bad choice.
The Star Wars material was all on-point. We learn how Hanna-Barbara would handle the franchise, about C3-PO’s post film career in pornography, and an exchange at a Jet-Eye council that includes the claim that ‘Politics are not what they once were. The Senate’s full of greedy delegates only looking out for themselves.’ To which the puzzled answer is “I thought you said politics are not what they once were!”
The Final Episodes of PEANUTS You Never Saw was also very satisfying. These Mad people get that Peanuts is rarely any funny. In these ‘final episodes’, Linus replaces his security blanket with a nicotene addiction, Charlie Brown admits to throwing his baseball games and puts down Snoopy. With all the sickly-sweet nostalgia that is bound to brought up by the Peanuts movie, I’m certain that at least a few readers will find these strips cathartic.
My favourite segment was a 1955 piece by Wally Wood called Julius Caesar. At first glance a parody of the Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar describes the various techniques and cliches Mad uses to satirise things, including anachronism, slapstick, and ‘Marilyn Monroe… Whenever possible!‘ There’s plenty of good stuff in this issue, but Julius Caesar is my main reason to keep it.
I don’t know if I like Mad magazine enough to get a subscription, although it’s usually the best thing in my local newsagent. Whenever I’m trapped in a public library for an indefinite period of time, it’s the first place I turned. I think that if you’re interested in graphic storytelling or satire, you should read at least one copy. It will surprise you.