I'm sad to say the MAD Magazine as I knew it will be ending its reign as an irreverent, satirical, publication that the "usual gang of idiots" would fill with fantastic art. I was an occasional contributor and had the privilege of doing several covers. It was the first magazine I ever bought and I poured over the art and humor like I had discovered the meaning of life. And I think I had.
My first assignment (#377 20 Dumbest Things 1988) was to depict the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal in the Star Wars theme with Kenneth Starr as Darth Vader and Bill Clinton as Luke Skywalker and Monica as Princess Leia. I was over the moon to get the project and was a nervous wreck awaiting the editorial staff review once it was delivered. The editor, John Ficarra called me after their meeting and said on speaker phone, "We're looking at this art and it's the worst thing I've ever seen and you'll never work in this town again [New York City]. My heart sank to the floor. Following a brief pause, there was an eruption of laughter in the room as he expressed their glee over how it turned out. Cruel and wonderful in the blink of an eye but a true MAD hazing to welcome me as the newest "idiot" in their illustrator call list.
The Starr Wars spoof was later ripped off by former Soviet Abkhazia who turned it into a postage stamp sheet. When I found out, I alerted the MAD team and they said, short of starting WWIII there was little they could do to stop them, not that we wanted to. Of course, it was without compensation to me or the publisher. Your welcome!
Several more pieces I poked fun at George W. Bush, Michael Jackson, Melania Trump, with various movie satires and of course a few Alfred E. Newman scenarios.
After the offices were moved to L.A. to be closer to the parent company, Warner Bros. the entire New York office stayed put with no interest in making the move. A new staff was hired and is now ending it's brief attempt to salvage a dwindling audience. I was offered one commission after the move but sadly was unable to take it on due to other obligations.
Perhaps MAD has lived a full life and one that inspired artists like me to pursue careers in art that entertain and bring joy with a bit of edge. Hoards of iconic work in the hands of collectors will mark an era of American culture that will never be duplicated.
Thank you to MAD and the staff who gave me a shot and made me part of that legacy. John Ficarra, Sam Viviano, and Ryan Flanders were always welcome calls from NYC.
As Alfred would say, "What me worry?"