January 22, 2004

NYT obituary today: "George Woodbridge, a cartoonist and illustrator whose hapless, baggy suburbanites peopled Mad magazine for nearly 50 years, died in a hospital on Staten Island on Tuesday."
Perhaps Mr. Woodbridge's most fondly remembered piece for the magazine was the 1965 sports satire "43-Man Squamish," written by Tom Koch: it featured a nonsensical field game played with shepherds' crooks, diving flippers, polo helmets and impossibly complicated rules.

"The different equipment was hysterical," Mr. Meglin recalled. "George was able to make that real." College students from all over the country sent in photographs of themselves playing the game.
I assume in Heaven there are the necessary Quarter-Frummerts, Overblats, and Back-Up Finks. So flourish a Frullip for one of the Mad Magazine greats from the old era.

On a personal note: I discovered Mad on a drug store magazine rack in Delaware in the early sixties. It was the first magazine I ever subscribed to. Like many others, I was thrilled by the new vistas on the culture it opened up. I tried to tip off a friend about the fabulous magazine. She said, "You read Mad? That's for boys!" If only I had been capable of rejecting that statement, which she was so sure of, instead of feeling ashamed of my inferior perceptiveness!


Brent said...

No one may ever see this, but here goes.

My boyhood best friend Frank and I had two dreams of what we would grow up to be: Baseball Players or writers.

By middle school we ere already amusing our classmates and teachers with our "creative writing" attempts at humor.

By the 9th grade, our stuff was being read in all of the English classes, as teachers found that it was popular with the students, especially the funny stuff.

(Disclaimer: I wasn't good at grammar, but our punctuation, etc. was always cleaned up by a friend who was an ace editor. She grew up to edit at 3 magazines.)

Fancying ourselves as future comedy writers (in the 9th grade), we sent a story workup to Mad Magazine. We received a nice letter from the publisher that said "Thanks. All of us here basically started the same way. Keep it up." It was signed in black ink "Bill Gaines". He enclosed 2 copies of their latest yet-to-be-published paperback.

We were in heaven - our first rejection letter! From our favorite magazine!

We next worked up a skit that we sent to the Carol Burnett Show.
She sent us back a handwritten note (who does that?) saying how she and the writers laughed a lot when she (herself!) read it out loud at the table. She then said that she couldn't take our "hilarious" script because of the "crazy" legal department - no unsolicited scripts allowed. But she did include 4 tickets to a taping of her variety show for a date 6 weeks hence. Frank and I and our moms went to the first taping (dress rehearsal) and before the shooting, Carol came out and asked if we (using our names) were in the audience. When we said yes, she said to be sure and watch the doctor skit. They were going to play around with an idea in the dress rehearsal that they couldn't do later.

In the skit, they gave the characters the names that Frank I had for our guys in our skit! We were blown away!

After the dress rehearsal, a page took us back stage where we got to meet the cast. Carol Burnett will always be at the top of my list for that.

Frank did grow up to be a sports and political writer. He is now a political consultant in D.C.

Me, in 19th grade I discovered girls and, ideas being my strong suit - not the actual writing - I started working on other stuff.

Brent said...

er, 10th grade, not 19th grade.

I guess that proves most of my points above.