If you’re like me, you like booze. It doesn’t matter what kind—we can get into that at another time. And if you’re even MORE like me than I’d care to admit, you enjoy getting on the Internet once you’re drunk and buying stuff.
But what to buy?! Man, there’s an open cesspool of goods to be had. Maybe you had your eye on that thatch of Elvis Presley’s pubic hair. Perhaps your collection will be complete once you’ve obtained a shot-glass full of Patrick Duffy’s saliva. Maybe you just can’t make it another day without a piece of French toast that looks as though Jesus was burned into its grainy surface.
Or maybe, if you’re like me (30 and slightly retarded), you won’t make it without 85 MAD Magazines spanning from 1988-1997. And yeah, your wife will probably be PISSED—you’ve got nowhere to keep them, that money was better suited for a down payment on a wheelchair (don’t ask)—but you can’t help it. You’ve had 14 beers, goddamnit, and $140 seems WAY reasonable.
So you buy them, and a week after the seller promises they’ll be there, they show up. And you tear open the box and you sift through your treasures. And though they reek of basement and failure, you love them nonetheless. And in an effort to make the purchase seem reasonable and warranted, you review one for the third-tier website that you write for. Like this:
MAD: No. 303, June, 1991 (Our Price, $1.75, Cheap!)
Cover: Macaulay Culkin as Kevin in Home Alone, doing the scream-face, Alfred E. Neuman reflected in his eyes.
Letters: I have no idea if these are real or not. If they are, they seem surprisingly well written. If they’re not… got me again, MAD!
First Feature: “Stale Prince of Belch Air.” Parody piece about—you guessed it!
Knot’s Landing. Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The artist of this piece is MAD stalwart Mort Drucker, and the jokes are, well, fresh. Dig:
Will: That settles it! After graduation, I’m going to UNLV and just play basketball for 4 years!
Carlton: But if that’s all you do, how will you ever graduate?
Will: Where you been, bro? Don’t you know that nobody who ever plays for Coach Jerry Tarkanian ever graduates?
Tales From the Duck Side Dept: These offerings were all one-page pieces from author/writer Duck Edwing. When I was little, I liked his super-cartoonish illustrations. Now that I’m older, I’m just confused as to how the fuck a dude ends up named “Duck.” And if that’s just a stage-name, why?
Give It Up!: This was a one-off spread that had poor cartooning and writing like, “If your new strategy for picking up women is to quote “love lyrics” from 2 Live Crew… Yeah, you can fill in the blank—and laugh uproariously. Or not. Your call.
MAD’s Guide to Predicting TV Tabloid & “Infotainment” Stories: Two page spread utilizing one of my favorite MAD artists—Rick Tulka—and mildly funny. It’s a formulaic joke—1 Fundamentalist is a letter writing campaign against “Married… with Children,” 2 Fundamentalists is a sex scandal (drawing of Jim Bakker), 3 Fundamentalists is a Mark Twain book-burning and 4 Fundamentalists is a Jesse Helms re-election campaign.
Whoa. Jesse Helms. 1991, ya’ll.
The Lighter Side Of…: From 1880 until present (well, supposing MAD is still around), TLSO is an undying effort from artist/writer Dave Berg. Never funny, this issue tackles “donations,” “approval,” education,” and “excuses.” This is either MAD’s worst section or topics of conversation you might have with a guidance counselor. Either way, you’re leaving after getting raped by a stuffed dolphin-puppet. What?
Tales From the Duck Side: Again. This time, he’s tackling superheroes and cannibalism. I wish this was funny, really, I do.
Why Cats Have 9 Lives: This is a two-page spread by writer/artist Peter Paul Porges. Or Paul Peter Porges. Whatever. I don’t care enough to look back, and you can’t make me. The art is shitty, and the jokes go like this: “Cats couldn’t care less about silly superstitions,” and there’s an illustration of a smiling black cat standing in front of a car that’s in the middle of a vicious wreck. Not PPP’s best work. Or maybe it was? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care.
The Ballad of Rocky Balboa: Come on, guys… it’s 1991, not 1981. This is literally a poem about Rocky Balboa. And it’s funny. Except it’s not. Weak.
Second Feature: “Major Dud” FINALLY, somebody’s sticking it to that pompous ass Gerald McRaney. Do you remember Major Dad? CBS? 4 seasons? Barely? Well, fear not—it’s forever immortalized in this issue of MAD. I don’t recall seeing a second of this show, so I can’t tell if the parody is funny or not. I’m gonna play the odds and say it isn’t.
Who Says Being Stranded Can’t Be Fun: This is a simple, fun piece written and illustrated by John Caldwell, another one of my MAD favorites. In this one, a dude’s stranded on a deserted island. What madness ensues? Well, he gets a case of Slim Fast, for one. In another panel of penciled mischief, a vicious rainstorm soaks the island-dweller’s tree. Hilariously, the tree collapses on his head—like a cheap umbrella!—when he attempts to shake out the moisture? Hi-jinks, folks.
Spy Vs. Spy: They made a cartoon about this. It was two pointy-faced communists kicking the shit out of one another, one panel at a time. Never funny, unless you’re really into “bomb-humor.” I’m not, and neither are you.
A MAD Guide to How Simple Things Work: I seriously couldn’t even be bothered to look at this. This feels like the last 15 minutes of SNL, regardless of season. This would be the black and white, period-piece sketch that was airing when you started to doze off, woke up angry, threw a waffle at the television, and began searching the television for something else to watch.
Tales From the Duck Side: Seriously… fucking THREE of these things? What in the hell happened to Don Martin?
Third Feature: “Home-a-Groan.” I was wondering when the cover would start making sense. Last three pages, natch. The shame of this piece being buried—after we’ve already long-lost interest—is that it’s illustrated by Sam Viviano, quite possibly the best artist MAD ever employed. His cartoony, yet robust characters fill the pages beautifully, yet the art contained therein is lost amidst a poorly crafted spoof of 1991’s hottest theatrical ticket. HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO SAM? It’s hard to not take this shit personal.
Fold-In: If you’re not familiar with the concept of the Fold-In, you probably haven’t read a MAD magazine. And if you’ve never read a MAD magazine, chances are, you’re probably not still reading this. But if you have, and if you are, let it be known that I didn’t fold the cover. Am I concerned about compromising the integrity of this future collectible? Fuck no. I was just never good at the fold-in. I never lined it up right, and therefore, the joke never made sense. Why fuck up the back page if it isn’t going to make sense? No reason.
Back Cover: Often times, the back cover of a MAD was a fake-out magazine cover. In this case, it was a simply a fake advertisement. In this case, “Grayola” wanted us to know they were changing their colors. What’s on tap for ’92? Well, “dead crack-user complexion blue,” for one. Pretty solid close, honestly.
Overall? This issue was a C-. One letter grade came strictly from Sam Viviano’s art. The other was a combination of the semi-funny back cover and the John Caldwell “desert island” piece. Shit.
Was this a mistake? Buying 85 issues of MAD?
Damn you booze!!!
But, no. Totally worth it.