Mad Magazine reboot?

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New MAD magazine?

Most of you know, that I did work for Mad for about 7 years, I’m proud of that, but I left because it became a complete waste of my time. It had become a ship without a rudder in voice, and direction.  Mad magazine has recently  gone through a shake up, I talked about it a little a few months back (subscribers got that rant, see why you should sign up?)…didn’t go further because after reviewing the emails/memos, none of them that had any pertinent info that were mass circulated and I keep private conversations private, I’m not an investigative reporter over here.  So I don’t have much to say, and I don’t actually know too much of anything that the rest of you don’t.

I will say I may have been wrong about one of my thoughts. I laughed at the notion that DC would put any real effort into getting a new editorial team on the Mag, to right the ship.  They Hired Bill Morrison (previously of Bongo Comics who handled the Simpsons).  I met him YEARS ago when I was a young punk.  He impressed me then as being sharp and ambitious, and he was nice enough to me even though I was a young punk. SO…I’d say hiring Bill to be the man in charge is BIG a step in the right direction. …HOWEVER…

I am concerned about this…this is an image that seems to be the cover of the next issue of Mad.

*note to millenials and Generation Z, that person on the cover is the Mad mascot, Alfred E Neuman…he’s a buffoon/clutz and usually has a gap in his teeth…and he’s been the mascot since 1957…before your grandfather was born. Funny stuff, right?…right?…no?  well, I guess it’s not directed at you, I mean why would you target your relaunch at TWO GREAT BIG MASSIVE GENERATIONS, when you can just speak to people who already know about the magazine?*

Okay, they are “rebooting” it with a new no.1. That has it’s pros and cons.  The con is that this sort of thing REALLY irritates life long fans…it really, really does. Especially in 2018 when fans have seen things get a new no.1 repeatedly as a vain attempt to get traction again.  The pro is…sometimes it works.  With a satire book like Mad, if handled the right way this could be a pretty funny gimmick. Another pro is that it does often get new people to take a look at things.  Which leads one to think they are (finally) focusing on growth.

HOWEVER…as I tried to explain to Mad for 7 years…if you are looking for growth, every time you put Alfred on the cover you have surrendered to a slow decline. I don’t have to explain to any of you that the cover is the most important thing.  You have one image to sell that book to a impulse buyer. ONE…IMAGE, to get someone’s attention, to make them curious, and if you are a comedy book, that image better be f8cking FUNNY.

I don’t find that particularly funny, maybe old Mad fans get a chuckle out of it and that’s great.  But (again) as I tried to explain for 7 years…no millennial or gen Z-er knows or cares who Alfred E Neuman is.  So if you are gen X or older, pretend you don’t know who he is and look at that cover.

It’s meaningless to you.  It would be better if it was blank.

Mad was sinking in readership under the old “leadership”because it only really ever focused on people who already knew what Mad was.  They put their efforts into keeping readers and getting back old ones.  There is this thing…it’s called “the law of diminishing returns”.  It’s the idea that you cannot keep everyone interested constantly, forever. Eventually people get bored, or find something else, or forget about it (or die of old age).  This ebs and flows of course, but the point is that you can’t just live hoping everyone who buys your product will always keep buying your product.  You focus on growing or you die.

General Patton had one standing order “always attack”.  I live by that order in my own work, it’s why I’m still around and growing.


Y’see..if you’re not happy with how many mags you’re selling, then you need to grow your readership. And that, by definition, means getting people who have not read it yet to read it.  No one who hasn’t read it is going to get anything out of seeing that cover other than an issue of a magazine they don’t read will be available in April.

That may not be the actual cover, it could be a gag.  I don’t know. I do know the only people talking about it are people who are already fans of Mad.  It’s not peaking any interest anywhere else.  And for a magazine, that heretofore had been on the decline, to have a promotional campaign that only speaks to people who already know of the book is a wasted effort. You have two very big generations out there who have never sniffed at an issue, that is a huge untapped segment of the population where you could mine for new readers…that cover doesn’t tell them jack squat.  And Mad has reached a point where is cannot get back all it’s new readers no matter how clever the ad because Mad has been around since 1955 and it’s readers are DYING. It has a segment of it’s readership DYING OF OLD AGE EVERY DAY.

The previous leadership had a real problem understanding how to attract the two younger generations ( thus them no longer having jobs) and getting their head around the notion that someone would not have any idea what Mad Magazine is…which left them completely blind a to the TWO BIG GIANT generations of people who they COULD have been targeting.  That cover, to those generations, amounts to you opening a restaurant and the only thing in your ad is the name of the restaurant…”Joe’s”.  What kind of food does Joe’s serve?! Is the food any good?!

Compare that new cover of issue no.1 to the original issue no.1

That cover there…that’s interesting. It’s goofy, the imagery let’s you know wacky stuff is waiting…it’s stylized, cartoony, a good representation of the funny magazine waiting for you.  It is out and out appealing to your natural curiosity, it is “clickbait” before click bait existed.

I don’t know what Bill has in mind.  He’s a bright guy though, so I’m not that concerned that anything I’ve said here is anything he hasn’t considered.  And possibly this cover is just trolling the old fans (although to my mind it’s still a waste, because anything not focused on new readers is a waste).

Mad is a comedy book, it would be best served by any promotion they put out being funny, and focusing on it being funny…and keeping in mind that in 2018 the bulk of availale readership has never opened one.. single…issue of Mad Magazine.

  I have no dog in this fight other than I, like many of you, would like to see the magazine get back to it’s former glory.

I say this here because from time to time I’ll say something here or in a blog on my website and magically within a week the entity/entities in question will stop doing whatever foolish thing I pointed out, and start doing something smart that I suggested. They never give me credit of course and that is fine with me. I don’t need credit, just f*cking fix the things I like.  Lest you end up like the entities that don’t listen to me…like say….New England Comics (publisher of The Tick) who ignored everything I said and have gone from me helping them and them selling nearly 10,000 copies to me  not helping them and them only selling 5000 copies.  Or the previous leadership of Mad…who would not listen to me and no longer have jobs.  I could go one…but I think that’s enough.

I know what I’m talking about when it comes to comedy.  Kapeesh?

***UPDATE- after my email about the Mad Magazine reboot and the cover art they were promoting, the good people at Graham Crackers Comics sent me, hot off the presses, the actual cover of the Mad Reboot.

Promotional cover
Actual cover

Hmm…I dunno, it’s better.  It’ll defiantly stand out more and gives the feel of the irreverence the comic is known for, but I don’t know that it’ll grab the attention of Gen Z and the Millennials…the color scheme is something more aligned with their pallet. So, I’d say’s better. Why they bothered promoting a fake cover, I don’t know.


Speaking of good covers…

Since I am just about out of copies of The Devil’s Digest no.1 TPB  I made some fancy sketchcover sets out of No.1 and No.2.  Did two sets with a brush, and one with a fine sharpie (prices reflect the degree of difficulty and the level of detail). These are pretty cool, and the have my favorite stories from the original run of Arsenic Lullaby comics. When I say something’s funny…that means it’s funny.  Get ’em if you want ’em.  and if you want a copy of no.1 at all…get it now, I have maybe 6 left.

online store art

online store books

***Discount Code***

Coupon code – voodoo – is good for 20% off your entire order at the

Arsenic Lullaby Online Store.  The store loads slow AF, we’re working on it.


When Douglas is not complaining, he and his work can be found here

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