Parodies in Mad, 1954-2017

Seven Mad parodies from 1954-2006

Wikipedia helpfully lists all of Mad’s movie and TV-show spoofs, but I believe this is the first attempt to catalog parodies of publications. Real, identifiable publications, that is: I’m not counting the fake lifestyle mags for groups like beatniks and hippies and mobsters Mad has perpetrated over the years. I’m also ignoring articles that show a bunch of different titles pulling the same gag: e.g., “Jack and Jill as Retold by Various Magazines (June 1959), “Magazines for Senior Citizens” (June 1961), etc. Everything listed here had at least one full page devoted to it.

"The Bunion," 2002.

“The Bunion,” 2002.

Unlike TV and movie spoofs, magazine parodies never became a staple of Mad’s editorial mix, and they’ve grown rarer as its target audience drifts away from boring old print. More than half the longer parodies appeared in the 1950s and ’60s, with the most recent in 2001. Many were designed by John Putnam, Mad’s art director from 1954 to 1980, whose fascination with the details of layout and typography was rivaled only by National Lampoon’s Michael Gross. Significantly, when Mad took a poke at The Onion in 2002, it targeted theonion.com, not the print edition. Since then there have been similar digs at The Huffington Post (2014) and Cracked (2016).

The list has two sections: multi-page parodies – usually consisting of a front page or cover and three or more inside pages — and cover-only parodies.  Section 1.B lists parodies done as bonuses in Mad annuals, which tended to be longer and more colorful that those in the magazine, with pages the same size and paper stock as their targets’. The biggest parody in a regular issue was a 16-page spoof of Entertainment Weekly in April 1998 that doubled as a test-run for Mad’s switch to inside color and slick paper (and the real ads that would pay for them). “Entertain-Me Weakly” generated a flurry of media coverage, but nothing as ambitious has been done since.

Pages of Mad's 1968 16 parody

“Sik-teen” in issue #121 (1968) was the only Mad parody to begin on the back cover and continue inside. Frank Frazetta’s Ringo first appeared in the “Blecch” Shampoo ad in issue #90 (1965).

Section 2 deals with cover-only parodies. Such brief spoofs usually leave me wanting more, but some of Mad’s are priceless. Basil Wolverton’s Life-like “Beautiful Girl of the Month” on the front of Mad comics #11 (May 1954) may be the most famous, but for my money the funniest is Mark Fredrickson’s version of Vanity Fair’s kiss-up to Tom Cruise and family in issue #472 (Dec. 2006). Both appeared on Mad’s front cover, but most fake covers have run on the back, where they’re subject to mutilation by Fold-In fanatics. Since the late ’90s, Mad has done most of its magazine spoofing in the annual “20 Dumbest People, Places and Things” survey.

Three pages of Mad's 1957 "TV Guise."

Making 1 + 1 (pages of Mad) = 3 (pages of parody) in issue #34 (1957).

Each listing begins with the name of the publication being parodied, in italics; followed by the fake title or article name, in parentheses; the Mad issue date and number; the length of the parody (if more than one page); and the names of the writer(s) and artist(s), in that order, separated by a slash (/). A phrase like “9 pages (on 5)” means one page of Mad contained two or more digest-size parody pages; the phrase “no cover” flags a couple of early parodies that didn’t have one; and “(p)” indicates a photographer. The writer and artist credits are from Doug Gilford’s Mad Cover Site, to whom all thanks. — VCR

1. Multi-page parodies …
A. … in Mad regular issues, 1954-2001:

  • The DailFirst page of "Field & Scream"y News (“Newspapers!”), Oct. 1954 (#16). Front cover + 7 pages. Harvey Kurtzman/Jack Davis.
  • Confidential (“Confidential Information”), Aug.-Sept. 1955 (#25). 6 pages (no cover). Kurtzman/Will Elder.
  • Field & Stream (“Field & Scream”), Jan.-Feb. 1957 (#31). 5 pages (no cover). Kurtzman/Davis.
  • TV Guide (“TV Guise”), July-Aug. 1957 (#34). 9 pages (on 5). Paul Laikin/Bob Clarke.
  • Better Homes and Gardens (“Bitter Homes and Gardens”), Mar.-Apr. 1958 (#38). 5 pages. Tom Koch/Wallace Wood.
  • The Saturday Evening Post (“… Pest”), May-June 1958 (#39). 6 pages. Koch/Clarke.
  • Pravda, July 1958 (#40). 4 pages. Frank Jacobs/Wood.
  • National Geographic (“National Osographic”), Sept.-Oct. 1958 (#41). 5 pages. Koch/Wood.
  • Look (“Gook”), Mar. 1959 (#45). 7 pages. Koch/Wood.
  • True Confessions (“Blue Confessions”), Oct. 1959 (#50). 9 pages (on 3) Laikin/Wood.
  • Modern Screen[?] (“Movie Land”), Apr. 1960 (#54). 5 pages. Larry Siegel/Joe Orlando.
  • The Wall Street Journal (“… Jungle”), Mar. 1961 (#61). 4 pages. Phil Hahn/.
  • Playboy (“Playkid”), Mar. 1961 (#61). 7 pages. Siegel/Clarke.
  • Ladies’ Home Journal (“… Journey”), Apr. 1961 (#62). 6 pages. Koch/Orlando.
  • Reader’s Digest (“Reader’s Digress”), Dec. 1961 (#67). 9 pages (on 5). Siegel/Orlando.
  • Popular Mechanics/Popular Science (“Popular Scientific Mechanics”), Sept. 1963 (#81). 7 pages. Al Jaffee/Clarke.
  • Hair Do (“Hair Goo”), June 1965 (#95). 6 pages. Jaffee/Jack Rickard.
  • Road & Track (“Load & Crash”), Sept. 1965 (#97). 6 pages. Koch/George Woodbridge.
  • National Enquirer (“National Perspirer”), Apr. 1966 (#102). 5 pages. Siegel/Jaffee.
  • 16 (“Sik-Teen”), Sept. 1968 (#121), Back & inside-back covers  + 6 pages. Siegel/Rickard, Davis.
  • Consumer Reports (“Condemner Reports”), Jan. 1970 (#132). 6 pages. Dick DeBartolo/Clarke, Irving Schild (p).
  • Popular Photography (“Popular Photomonotony”), June 1975 (#175). 6 pages. DeBartolo/Schild (p).
  • Consumer Reports (“Consumer Reports for Government Agencies”), March 1979. 4 pages. DeBartolo/.
  • TV Guide (“Mad’s ‘TV Guide’ Textbook”), June 1980 (#215). 7 pages (on 5). Lou Silverstone/Woodbridge.
  • Mad (“The Book of Mad” [Biblical Parody]), Dec. 1983 (#243). 5 pages. Silverstone/Paul Coker, Dave Berg, Don Martin, Rickard, Davis, Clarke, Woodbridge.
  • Parade (“Charade”), Sept. 1993 (#321). 4 pages. Charlie Kadau, Joe Raiola/Sam Viviano.
  • Entertainment Weekly (“Entertain Me Weakly”), Apr. 1998 (#368). 16 pages. Scott Brooks/Drew Friedman, Joe Favarotta.
  • Generic muscle magazine (“Bulging Man”), Aug. 1999 (#384). 8 pages. Scott Maiko/Scott Bricher, Schild (p), Sean Kahlil (p)
  • Generic tattoo mag (“Maimed Flesh”), Sept. 2001 (#409). 8 pages. Maiko/Hermann Mejia.
TV Guide parodies and 1776 "Madde."

Bonus parodies in or from More Trash # 6 (1962) and Specials #8 (1972) and #19 (1976).

B. … in Mad Annuals, 1961-1976:

  • Puck: The Comic Weekly (“A Sunday Comics Section We’d Like t0 See”), in The Worst From Mad #4, 1961. 8 broadsheet pages. /Wood, Orlando, Clarke, Woodbridge.
  • TV Guide (“TV Guise”), in More Trash from Mad #6, 1963. 16 digest-size pages. Aron Mayer Larkin/Lester Kraus (p).
  • TV Guide (“TV Guise” Fall Preview Issue), in Mad Special # 8, Fall 1972. 16 digest-size pages. Koch/Schild (p).
  • Mad (“Madde”), in Mad Special #19, Fall 1976. 24 pages. All the regulars.

2. Cover-only parodies …
A. …on Mad front covers, 1954-2006:

  • Life (“Mad”), May 1954 (#11). “Beautiful Girl.” /Basil Wolverton.
  • Time (“Mad”), Sept. 1982 (#233). Pac Man: Man of the Year. /Clarke.
  • Time (“Mad”), March 1987 (#269). Alfred E. Neuman as Max Headroom. /Richard Williams.
  • People (“Mad”), Jan. 1991 (#300). Alfred as “Sexiest Schmuck Alive!” /Norman Mingo.
  • Vanity Fair (“Mad”), Dec. 2006 (#472). Alfred as Suri Cruise. /Mark Fredrickson.
Real and parody covers of SatEvePost and Vanity Fair.

Mad on the Post’s redesign (back cover #62) and VF’s Suri Cruise hoopla (front cover #472).

B. …on back covers, 1958-2000:

  • Reader’s Digest (“Reader’s Disgust”). Jan.-Feb. 1958 (#37). /Orlando.
  • Saturday Evening Post. March 1962 (#69). /Mingo.
  • Newsweek (“Newsweak”), Dec. 1963 (#83). /Kraus (p).
  • The New Yorker. March 1977 (#189). Bill Johnson Jr./Clarke.
  • WWF Magazine (“WWWF: Witless Windbag Wrestlers Federation Magazine”), July 1987 (#272). /Schild (p).
  • Sports Illustrated (“Sports Titillated”), April 1988 (#278). /Schild (p).
  • Metal Edge (“Metal Sludge”), July 1989 (#288). Kadau, Raiola/Schild (p).
  • Typical teen mag (“StupidTeen”), Sept. 1991 (#305). Kadau, Raiola/.
  • GQ (“Geek’s Quarterly”), March 1992 (#309). William T. Rachendorfer, Andrew J. Schwartzberg/.
  • Sassy (“Sasssy”), Jan. 1993 (#316). Kadau, Raiola/Jacques Chenet (p)
  • Martha Stewart Living (“…Dying”), May 1997. Meredith Anthony, Larry Light, Alison Power/Schild (p).
  • Maxim (“Maximum”), July 2000. Jeff Kruse/AP, Wide World (p).

C. …in the annual “20 Dumbest” list, 2000-2017:

  • 1999's "20 Worst" People cover.People, Jan. 2000 (#389). “JFK Jr. crash coverage.” David Shayne, Raiola/.
  • Playboy, Jan. 2001 (#401). “Darva Conger.” Dave Croatto/.
  • Time, Jan. 2002 (#413). “Anne Heche.” Greg Leitman/.
  • Martha Stewart Living (“Martha Stewart Lying”), Jan. 2003 (#425). “Martha Stewart.” /Scott Bricher.
  • Teen People (“Dumb Teen People”), Jan. 2004 (#437). “Jessica Simpson.” Frank Santopadre/Schild (p).
  • Modern Bride (“Drunken Bride”), Jan. 2005 (#449). “Britney Spears.” Raiola, Kadau/Schild (p).
  • Modern Bride (“Runaway Bride”), Jan. 2006 (#461). “Jennifer Willibanks.” Kadau, Raiola/Bricher.
  • Sports Illustrated (“Sports Inebriated”), Jan. 2007 (#473). “Bode Miller.” Kadau, Raiola/Bricher.
  • Sporting News (“Snorting News”), Jan. 2008 (#485). “Keith Richards.” Jacob Lambert/Fredrickson.
  • Parenting (“Bad Parenting”), Jan. 2009 (#497). “Celebrity parents.” /Schild (p).
  • High Times, Jan. 2010 (#502). “Michael Phelps.” Uncredited.
  • Women’s Wear Daily (“…Deli”), Jan. 2011 (#507). “Lady Gaga.” Barry Liebman/Bricher.
  • Scientific American (“Unscientific American”), Jan. 2013 (#519). “Todd Akin.” Scott Nichol/.
  • Money (“Fake Money”), Feb. 2014 (#525).”The Winklevoss twins” /Mike Lowe.
  • Better Homes and Gardens (“Better Homes unGuarded”), Feb. 2015 (#531). “White House security.” Uncredited.
  • Sports Illustrated (“Sports Segregated”), Feb. 2015 (#531). “Donald Sterling.” /Friedman.
  • People (“Deplorable People”), Feb. 2017 (#543). “Donald Trump.” Uncredited.

About Cullum Rogers

I'm a semi-retired freelance cartoonist in Durham, N.C., who's been collecting newspaper and magazine parodies for over 50 years.
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