The Stanford Chaparral was the first successful college humor magazine outside the Ivy League. Recent grad Everett W. Smith and senior Bristow Adams put out the first issue in October 1899; they also gave the magazine its mascot: a middle-aged jester in Harold Lloyd glasses called “the Old Boy.” In 1905, Judge’s Monthly listed the Chaparral and its nearby rival the California Pelican (b. 1901) among the best-known college magazines. Both remained fixtures of Top Ten polls for sixty years.
Other magazines envied the Chaparral for its plentiful advertising, professional appearance and frequent parody issues. In the April 1903 “woman’s edition,” the all-female staff briefly parodied the Ladies’ Home Journal and the campus literary magazine, the Sequoia. What may be the first issue-length parody was another Sequoia, dubbed the “Squaller,” in January 1915. “Chappie has secured a new costume,” the Daily Palo Alto wrote, as if introducing readers to an unfamiliar concept. “It is the business suit of the Sequoia. The new garments, exterior and interior, are to the exact style and cut of those of his red-jacketed companion, for his whole get-up will be a jocose though satirical impersonation.”
The golden age for Chaparral parodies was the 1950s, which was also the heyday of Life, Look, the Saturday Evening Post, Holiday and other large-format, lushly illustrated sitting ducks. The Chaparral couldn’t match their production values, but it came closer than most college mags, especially in “Lurk” (Look) and the “Saturday Evening Pile” (the Post). The most notorious parody was 1961’s “Layboy,” a mock Playboy that got editor Brad Efron suspended and the Chaparral shut down for the rest of the year. The unluckiest was a 1981 spoof of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday magazine, Datebook. Playing off the popularity of Dallas, “Datebook’s” cover asked “Who Shot RR?” over a photo of President Reagan in a cowboy hat. The magazine went on sale at 9 a.m. local time on Monday, March 30, one hour before Reagan was shot for real in Washington, D.C.
Like most campus mags, the Chaparral sputtered and stalled in the 1960s. Unlike them, it kept going, though its claim to be “the nation’s second oldest continually published humor magazine” (after the Lampoon) is a stretch: In addition to the 1961 “Layboy” hiatus, the Chaparral abandoned humor for radical politics in the Nixon era, and in the ’80s it sometimes appeared only once or twice a year. The Chaparral last made national news in 2004, when its outside-the-box parody of “A Pile of Paper” — bills, restaurant menus, lottery tickets, etc. — was written up in The New Yorker. More recent sightings are scarce. The magazine’s Twitter account has been dormant for two years, and the most recent issue on its website, stanfordchaparral.com, is dated Sept. 2005.
This list includes all the Chaparral parodies I know of, including those of other campus publications, but it’s far from complete. I’ve used dots (….) to show the longer gaps and would appreciate help filling them. Most of the info comes from the Stanford Daily archive (online here), The Stanford Chaparral Inaugural Century (Stanford Chaparral, 1999) and my own collection.
Stanford Chaparral Parodies, 1915-2008:
The Stanford Sequoia (“The Stanford Squaller”), January 1915.
Judge (“Judge Bathing Girl Number”), May 1925.
Vanity Fair, January 1926.
College Humor (“College Rumor”), March 1928.
Various publications (“Parody Number”), June 1928.
Various publications (“Magazine Parody”), March 1929.
True Love / True Confessions (“True Love Confessions”), March 1930.
Typical 19th-century magazine (“The Family Gazette”), February 1931.
American Weekly (“American Weakly”), March 1932.
Typical pulp magazine (“Horror Chaparral”), January 1941.
Various campus publications (“Minor Publications Number”), June 1942.
Life (“Like”), May 1943.
Esquire (“Chappie”), May 1945.
Typical pulp magazine (“Pithy Pulp”), January 1947.
Vogue (“Vague”), March 1949.
Fortune (“Fawchun”), March 1950.
Ladies’ Home Journal (“Ladies Prone Journal”), March 1951.
Life (“Lite”), March 12, 1952.
Modern Screen (“Maudlin Screen”), March 1953.
Saturday Evening Post (“Saturday Evening Pile”), March 10, 1954.
Look (“Lurk”), March 9, 1955.
Life (“Li_e”), March 14, 1956.
Holiday (“Hodilay”), April 1957.
The Stanford Daily (“The Stanfraud Daily”), February 5, 1958.
Sports Illustrated (“Sports Frustrated”), April 30, 1958.
True (“Tube”), April 1959.
Saturday Evening Post (“Wednesday Morning Pile”), March 1960.
Playboy (“Layboy”), May 1961.
This Week, June 1963.
Campus Voice (“Pompous Voice”), November 1963 [local magazine].
The Stanford Daily, April 1965.
Playboy (“Layboy”), June 1965.
Typical men’s adventure magazine (“Groin”), May 1967.
Time, May 1968 [mostly non-parody content].
Campus Report, March 1973 [Stanford faculty and staff weekly].
The Stanford Daily, Nov. 23, 1974 [distributed at Cal game].
Datebook, Spring 1981 [S.F. Chronicle Sunday magazine].
The Stanford Daily, June 6, 1990.
The Stanford Daily, March 10, 1994.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 1998.
Typical lifestyle magazine (“Magazine”), March 1999.
National Geographic, April 2002.
“A Pile of Paper,” Spring 2004 [just that].
Typical thriller novel (“Mystery Thriller”), May 2008. — VCR