On April 21 1954, William M. "Bill" Gaines, publisher of Entertaining Comics, spoke at the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency to defend his comic books against accusations of indecency and the perversion of minors. Some say as a direct result of his testimony, comic books were irreparably damaged. But no matter the result, Bill Gaines should be applauded simply for being willing to stand up and be counted.
He's drawn absurd animal comics, invented innumerable impossible items, and been responsible for mutilating the back covers of many millions of magazines. He's won the highest honors that the medium of comics has to offer, authored best-selling books, and appeared in more issues of Mad Magazine than any other contributor. He's Al Jaffee, one of America's best-known and most beloved cartoonists, and this past weekened marked his 95th birthday.
Horror. Crime. Science Fiction. War. Suspense. Oddball humor. Incisive writing. Eye-popping art. These are the elements that made EC Comics irresistible to readers of the 1950s. Their titles were produced by some of the finest creators the comic industry has ever seen.
When the bubble burst, and EC's line of comics fell before a squalling mob of censors, Senators, sinister psychiatrists and simple-minded puritans, one series managed to escape, transform itself into a full-size black-and-white magazine, and go on to turn American culture upside-down with its cleverly absurd approach to humor. And through it all, there was one constant figure lurking behind the scenes: publisher, co-editor, troubleshooter, troublemaker, and visionary William M. Gaines.
We're now several weeks in to the new school year, which means disillusioned and exhausted teachers may have started calling in sick to work already, and it's time for the substitutes to step up. Thankfully Mad Magazine's usual gang of idiots --- specifically Kenny Keil and John Kerschbaum --- have provided a helpful illustrated guide to the challenges of substitute teaching in the upcoming issue #536, and we've got an exclusive first look. Of course, it's about as respectful of the profession as you might expect.
Basil Wolverton is one of comics' great individual stylists, a creator whose idiosyncratic imagination has impacted generations of artists, and influenced a broad spectrum of popular culture. Cartoons, hot rod art, underground comix, skate design, and nearly every form that revels in the humorous and grotesque has drawn inspiration from the exaggerated absurdities that Wolverton called forth with his twisted-yet-delicate ink lines.
Today, Mad Magazine #533 goes on sale on newsstands and in comic shops nationwide, and it sets itself aside from the previous five hundred and thirty-two issues by being the first-ever issue of the magazine to feature a celebrity guest editor: the legendary (and famously funny) musician, Weird Al Yankovic. A couple of weeks ago, we got the chance to speak with Weird Al and Mad editor-in-chief John Ficarra about this special issue. Our conversation touched on Al's personal connection to the magazine, his comedic influences, and his plans for the future.
Try to picture the prototypical Mad magazine cover in your mind. There's a good chance that whatever you're imagining is in the style of cartoonist Jack Davis, who announced his retirement today at the age of 90.
Each weekday, ComicsAlliance brings you a carefully selected variety of links from around the web about comics and comics-related media, including movies, video games, toys, and whatever else might be worth noting. Quite frankly, these are items you may just need to know about to have a productive day. Take a look at today's hand-picked links after the jump.
It's hard to work out how Robot Chicken creative director and increasingly busy comic book writer Kevin Shinick found the time to complete 100 episodes of Mad for Warner Bros. Animation, but he did it, and it's an accomplishment he and the studio are celebrating with a double-sized anniversary show tonight on Cartoon Network. Perhaps most enticingly for ComicsAlliance readers, the episode's centerpiece is what's surely to be a biting Man of Steel parody starring "Weird Al" Yankovic as Superman and Henry Winkler as Jor-El.
Devised and written by (and usually starring) Shinick, the Mad cartoon is, in his words, the magazine brought to life in animation. It's a bold statement but honestly Shinick isn't wrong. Besides just being very funny, Mad translates the venerable humor magazine's signature irreverence, silliness and other naughtiness for television, segueing from one sketch to another with animated page tears and everything. The series actually employs some of the cartoonists who continue to define the voice of Mad, including Sergio Aragonés, who contributes all-new in-the-margins strips that find their way into every episode, as do topical film and television parodies, fake commercials and, of course, Spy vs. Spy. In every case, sketches are presented in visual styles reminiscent of Mad masters like Don Martin, Mort Drucker and Al Jaffee, and by way of different animation techniques such as Flash, stop-motion and puppets, to further honor the stylistic diversity of the magazine. But the series updates the magazine's scope for the extremely memetic world of today, going all-in on mashups (the ThunderLOLcats comes immediately to mind) and other highly bloggable jokes.
That any contemporary animated series makes it to 100 episodes is remarkable, but Mad has the additional distinction of being explicitly based on a comics magazine -- and with the help of that comics magazine's current contributors like Aragones and Tom Richmond -- makes the Emmy-nominated series that much more interesting. It's obvious from talking to Shinick (who's also writing Superior Carnage for Marvel) that the mantle of Mad is hugely important to him. In the following interview you'll find out why that is, as well as an inside look at Mad's impressive production workflow, Shinick's philosophy about comedic content for children, and what else to expect from tonight's 100th episode.
Longtime MAD Magazine artist Sergio Aragones is well known for how much stuff he can get on a page -- he's been filling the magazine's margins for decades. So just imagine what he could do with a gigantic pullout poster!
Well, you don't have to imagine it. Aragones has condensed more than 60 years of MAD history in one big image for Entertainment Weekly.