April 5, 2017

About those Mad Magazine visualizations of clichés,,,

Here's the "Horrifying Cliche's" page from a National Lampoon parody of Mad Magazine:

Click to enlarge and clarify.

We are talking about clichés in another post this morning, and mockturtle said:
The reason I'm unduly fond of cliche metaphors may be linked to my childhood fondness for MAD magazine which featured 'Horrifying Cliches', taken literally. Or maybe because to obviously avoid a cliche is even more banal than using one.
Then Jeff Gee said:
Wow! The whole Nat Lamp MAD parody is online here. Scroll down for the Horrifying Cliches.
Wow, indeed. And I'm another one of those people who — like mockturtle — loved Mad Magazine when I was a kid. I read it mostly in the early 60s. I'd never heard of it, but discovered it on the magazine rack at Tigue's Drug Store when I was about 10 years old. I was amazed that the world had such a thing in it. Really affected my young mind. Tried to get my best friend interested in it too and she informed me the magazine was "for boys," which was another thing about the world that surprised me.


buwaya said...

Its interesting that those cliches MAD featured would be unusable in todays social media discourse because they are too literate. They are obsolete because most of the public cant understand them anymore.

zipity said...

I enjoyed both Mad and Cracked magazines.

Until I got older and graduated to National Lampoon.

Fandor said...

Loved Mad. Besides the great artists like Will Elder, Wally Wood, Mort Drucker and George Woodbridge, many wits of the day contributed. People like Ernie Kovacs, Bob and Ray and Jean Shepard to name a few. But, like all good things the magazine declined in every way till it actually became what adults always claimed it was, a piece of trash.
So, "What, me worry!"

Bay Area Guy said...

Like Zipity above, I absolutely loved Mad Magazine, but then graduated to National Lampoon, at around age 13, when they occasionally, and quite humorously, added a few naked girls to their pages. Both are treasures.

How much is laughter worth? I wouldn't trade a million bucks for all those laughs, as a young lad.

M Jordan said...

I too was shocked to know such a thing as Mad existed. I remember reading the movie parodies of movies I would never see. I doubt I cracked a smile but I was mesmerized. The back cover fold-in was a favorite for me, too. Mad Magazine shaped my mind for better or for worse (just like Holden Caulfield did).

pdug said...

Is the fact that the 'blowing a joke' is clearly male/male indicative of the old association of BJs primarily with homosexuality.

DKWalser said...

My 4th grade teacher introduced me to Mad Magazine, which she read during recess. My mother wasn't impressed with her reading material, but I was.

buwaya said...

In this modern world it would still be "for boys".
This sort of humor, or this category of amusement, doesnt seem to work for women. With a few unusual exceptions.

M Jordan said...

One more Mad thing: Alfred E. Neumann was Ted Koppel's doppelgänger ... or at least double.

buwaya said...

And "MAD" of the old style would be shut down quickly for offending the modern worlds' mostly female Miss Grundy's.

Curious George said...

I liked folding the back page to discover the riddle answer. Also Spy v Spy. But the best was "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions."

Fandor said...

The best National Lampoon satire I ever say was the all black version of THE MALTESE FALCON.
No doubt, Lazlo Spatula would have enjoyed the take off on the televison show BEWITCHED.
But overall, there was never anything really clever or original about National Lampoon. The humor
was obvious, adolescence and tiresome.
Kind of like "entertainment" today.
It was the beginning of the end, Althouse.
Our generation is responsible.
Enjoying the ride?

tim in vermont said...

I didn't remember anything as risque as that "blowing a joke" one. I was probably too young to get it, especially with what look like men's shoes.

rhhardin said...

Flaubert made everyone afraid to write anything with his cliche dictionary.

Tank said...

Was there a continuum from Mad to R. Crumb?

Was Mad a gateway drug to R. Crumb?

Brando said...

I used to collect the old ones--one of my favorite bits was the "Dirty Harry" parody where the chief tells Harry he must let the suspect go because he didn't read the guy his rights, and "those are the laws that make America great" and Harry responds that he and the audience just decided they preferred the laws that made Nazi Germany great.

madAsHell said...

I enjoyed both Mad and Cracked magazines.

Cracked was a Mad magazine rip-off. Today, it seems to cater to cynics, and curmudgeons. Perhaps, one might even call it click-bait. It also serves up some slow embedded links that really makes it cumbersome to read.

LordSomber said...


zipity said...


Fandor said...

For those of you who don't know, there were a few competitors with Mad around 1960.
One was called TRUMP.

buwaya said...

I suggest a brave mom send her brave kid off to school with vintage MAD, or reprint collections thereof. As an experiment.
My hypothetical outcome -
I see confiscations, principals, suspensions, counseling, the school board opining, and civil rights lawsuits or even social services being brought in.

buwaya said...

The said medals went up in flames, along with our in-laws.

Rick Turley said...

Blogger zipity said...

I bought a bottle several weeks ago here in TN for this very reason. I knew it was a real thing at some point but assumed it was a NE specific drink and likely gone. Have not tried as yet as my carbonated beverage palate is not very wide ranging.

buwaya said...

Electronic devices arent physical evidence, and the complaint in the hypothetical would concern racism, misogyny, or any number of manufactured oppressions.

My boys are much too old for this experiment, long since out of the oppressive, philistine, cretinous clutch of the school system.

mockturtle said...

Yes, the movie takeoffs were probably my favorite feature. I can still remember words to some of the Mad versions of certain musicals. My sister and I both enjoyed them and would sing the musicals with the Mad lyrics. My brother, OTOH, never saw the humor.

mockturtle said...

Ah yes, play with the school administrators.
You should have your boys "make" a clock that looks like a bomb and bring it in to school, buwaya. You show them what boys in your culture can do!

Ah, yes. Bomb facsimiles are far more acceptable in school than humor.

mockturtle said...

Any of you scientific types out there remember the Journal of Irreproducible Results? Hilarious! I still have a copy. It's stored away with my only article published in a major scientific journal--the results of which were reproducible, I might add! ;-)

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

LordSomber said...


Owen said...

Wonderful stuff. I too remember Mad Magazine as a treasury of jokes, japes, punnery, inspired marginalia (weren't there little characters who appeared at the edge of pages in some tenuous silent spoof?), parody, comic strips, fold-in paper crafts, you name it. Never a dull moment and a way to gain knowledge, back-handedly, about underlying events. Living where I did in the boondocks, a Mad parody about some Broadway show or big movie had to be deconstructed before I could hope to understand what was being mocked. We didn't care, it was our window into that big world.

Mad mocked the world; Nat Lampoon mocked not that mockery, but again the world, only in a very edgy way.

The "blowing a joke"is funny but would never make it today. Has the edge of that edgy Lampoon/Mad humor vanished, under the glare of the PC Gender Gestapo? I fear it has.

HJA said...

Hey, Tank, yeah, there's a Mad Magazine/R. Crumb connection, here's Crumb telling the story himself, a little ways down the page, in "Ode to Harvey Kurtz."


And check it out, the guy who posted those Nat'l Lampoon scans, John Glenn Taylor? He's a musician — amateur, I guess, can't really tell — but he's got a bunch of recordings on soundcloud, they're good, I dig em. Beatles-y, Mose Allison-y, XTC-y, plus other stuff.



Fernandinande said...

mockturtle said...
Any of you scientific types out there remember the Journal of Irreproducible Results?


I stumbled across it in the engineering library, where it was sitting there on the shelf like a normal journal. I scanned this image from it years ago, and it has wandered across the internet in the meantime. (White-text caption(s) added by others).

The articles on Superman's X-rays causing cancer, and collections of old National Geographic magazine destabilizing Florida(?) were quite informative.

I used to get MAD books delivered by mail, IIRC they said "Educational Comics" on the wrapper. (Later changed to "Entertaining Comics").

Owen said...

Mockturtle and Ferandinande: I was not a regular consumer of Journal of Irreproducible Results; but I loved it.

Didn't they produce the Ig/Nobel prizes each year?

Bill R said...

Favorite MAD Parody of an Elvis movie. Elvis had an airmail company and is buying insurance.

"Am I covered for windstorms?"
"There's a wind clause"

"How about snow storms?"
"There's a snow clause"

"And hail storms?"
"There's a hail clause"

"Sorry kid, there is no sandy clause"

Bill R said...

And a Star Trek Parody...

Captain Kirk:The Klingons are too powerful. We'll have to surrender."

Spock: "Surrender Captain? I can't believe my ears."

Kirk: "I can't believe your ears either, Mr. Spock"

Fandor said...

Trump: The Complete Collection Hardcover by Harvey Kurtzman (Author), Will Elder (Illustrator), Jack Davis (Illustrator), Wallace Wood (Illustrator), Mel Brooks (Contributor) is available at AMAZON.
Use Alhouse's link to buy.
Funny stuff!

Roughcoat said...


Ann Althouse said...

When I was reading Mad Magazine, I didn't really have the chance to go see enough current movies to be able to get much more than the idea -- the IMPORTANT idea -- that you can make fun of things that are intended to be taken seriously.

What worked best for me were things about TV commercials (and also just making fun of commercial products). It was great to be inoculated against the impression those ads were trying to make.

I also liked Dave Berg's "Lighter Side of..." The style of the drawing was very specifically his, very precise.

Roughcoat said...

43-Man Squamish: "Mi tío es enfermo, pero la carretera es verde!"

Ann Althouse said...

"Trump: The Complete Collection Hardcover by Harvey Kurtzman"

I saw that title but I didn't bother looking because Harvey Kurtzman died a long time ago. Is there another Harvey Kurtzman?? What's up with using the name?

Okay, I looked it up: "Trump (1956-57) was Harvey Kurtzman’s dream magazine for Hugh Hefner and Playboy. Despite top talent (Mel Brooks, Will Elder, Jack Davis, Wally Wood), only two issues saw print. Six decades later the legendary Trump is finally collected, including the aborted issue #3. This overdue collection will blow comic fans’ minds!"

Hmm. What do you think of re-issuing that now? Kurtzman died in 1993.

Roughcoat said...

Don Martin was my favorite. His stuff made me laugh out loud. Especially the sound effects. And characters like Fester Bestertester and Fonebone.

Shtoink! Shklorp! Fwoba-dap!

Fernandinande said...

Owen said...
Didn't they produce the Ig/Nobel prizes each year?

Don't think so. They have a sorta pitiful website (jir.com) but several collections; I had (casualty of moving) this one.

GRW3 said...

Favorite National Lampoon Cover: "Buy This Magazine or We Will Shoot This Dog"

Mad Magazine...

Misunderstood statements: "Guerillas Fighting on the Plain of Jars" was illustrated by Gorillas duking it out on large plane of mason jars.

The lighter side of death: Army Sergeant having to tell a troop his mother died. "All you men with living mothers step forward."... "Not so fast Kowalski..."

Science Fiction parodies always had an element where a threat literally "This Spells Certain Death"...

Above it all was the motto, perhaps one thing to be revived as we deal with this crazy world...

What, me worry?

Fandor said...

bywaya said," Its interesting that those cliches MAD featured would be unusable in todays social media discourse because they are too literate. They are obsolete because most of the public can't understand them anymore."
Althouse asked, "Hmm. What do you think of re-issuing now? Kurtzman died in 1993."

bywaya is right. The culture is too dumbed down to appreciate the type of satire MAD and TRUMP offered.
Nolstagia is still a big seller for boomers. Unfortunately, when we compare the things that made us laugh decades
ago, and what folks find funny today, it seems as if boomers lived in an alternate universe.
In a sense, we did. That world we lived in, post WW 2, the cold war era and the space age so vivid in our minds, is as distant to snowflakes as the golden age of Greece was for us.

Look, a generation that thinks the First Amendment of the US Constitution should be repealed because free speech
is liable to hurt somebody's feelings, is a generation that is ignorant and lost. Their only point of reference seems to be what happen last week (to themselves), if they can remember back that far.

What changed? Who's responsible?

Kurtzman died in 1993. Bill Clinton became president in 1993. Was that the point everything started going downhill?
Or, was it the counter culture? The Vietnam War? The Great Society? The Pill?
Are we all victims of the modern age?

I want my MAD and TRUMP magazine back!
Yes! Thank your luck stars they have been re-issued and are only a click away on Althouse's Amazon portal.

The Godfather said...

I'm suddenly getting a lot of Amazon ads on Althouse, middle of the screen, not off on the margin. Is it just me, or is this a new paradigm?

Rick Lee said...

In the 60's I painted a mural of Alfred E Neuman on my bedroom wall. I have an Alfred E Neuman bobblehead on my desk right now. A few years agoI got a tour of the Mad offices from Dick Debartolo and I held some original artwork for a fold-out in my hands. It was practically a religious experience.

Night Owl said...

I learned to read from MAD magazines and PEANUTS books --(My dad bought them for us. He had an appreciation for offbeat humor). I was reading them, and only half understanding them--the "blowing a joke" joke would've gone right over my head-- before I started school. I'm sure that is to blame for my bouts of cynicism and a tendency to turn everything into a joke.

I recall "News Headlines as envisioned by Children"-- with "Braves sweep giants double-header", "Guerrillas advance across Plain of Jars", etc. And "Parents imagine what their kids will be when they grow up"--ie a kid looking through a microscope and parents think he will be a scientist, but he grows up to be a peeping tom looking through keyholes, etc.

And I loved the song parodies as well. "Hello Raleigh" stuck with me:

Hello, Raleigh
Well hello, Raleigh
We've been smoking that tobacco
You supplied
Since you've come back, Raleigh
We've a hack, Raleigh
From our smoking we are choking
And our throats are dry
We inhale, Raleigh
Till we're pale, Raleigh
There's no wonder on your blunder
We say Fie!
You brought the weed, Raleigh
You we don't need, Raleigh
Raleigh we'll come get you
Bye and bye!

M Jordan said: "... Alfred E. Neumann was Ted Koppel's doppelgänger ... or at least double. "

Oh, yes. Every time I see Ted Koppel, I see Alfred E Newman.

mamafrog said...

Oh my, I used to read the teen mags, but I will admit to reading Mad Magazine when my brother brought one home (don't think he read my teen magazines). I always giggled at the cartoons, it just never occurred to me to go by one.

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