I've just read the August 2010 Mad magazine, number 504 if you are counting issues. It was sitting on a table at the library waiting to be reshelved. On the cover is Alfred E. Newman slipping an iPad into the bottom of a bird cage. Thinking it might be fun to read and knowing I will be seeing my old school friend Robert Goehring soon, I checked the magazine out. Back in the late 1960s, Robert and I spent many hot Texas afternoons in his room reading Mad while listening to orange vinyl rock records that his older brother bought at a PX in Japan. I think Pete Midkiff sometimes had Mad, too. I had not looked at any issue in decades. It would be like old times.
Well, yes and no. Mad has changed. While it is now in full color, it is still an irreverent humor magazine that spares no one from parody. It still has "Spy vs. Spy," tiny cartoons in the margins, and a folding back cover. I still find it funny. It is that last point that surprises me. Isn't Mad supposed to be aimed at teens. I'm over fifty.
Reading through the issue of the magazine, I kept finding items that spoke more to adult concerns or expressed old guy sentiments, such "9 Unmistakable Signs That You're Not Quite Over Your Ex" and "12 Reasons We Hate Cell Phones." Do teens know who Mr. T and Don Rickles are? Have they ever seen a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip to recognize the parody? On page 2, the editors celebrate that they were visited by the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 - a bunch of old guys. Are the editors and writers of Mad a bunch of old guys, too?
Kids are not forgotten. There is a two-page spread comparing teen idol Justin Bieber with other things that start with the letter B, such as Babar and butter, followed by a four-page parody of Twilight in which you learn why the handsome dude has dog breath. There are cartoons "Rex in the City" and "Projectile Vomit Baby." The Toy Story gang gets a new story in which they drive around in a Toyota that won't brake. Sarah Palin is drawn with lots of wrinkles. Much of the content is rude. I suspect some teens still enjoy the magazine.
The editors saved some of the best work to last with the very cynical "One Afternoon in the Confessional" and the campy "Archie Marries Jughead."
Bonnie says that Mad was always written by adults for adults. As a teen I must have just assumed that it was written for me. It's still written for me but you might like it, too.