Punch Parodies 1: 1954-1956

Highlights: Punch versions of Reader’s Digest (1956) and The New Yorker (1954)

Punch (1841-1992) loved parody from birth, but it waited over a century to do a full-scale takeoff of another publication. The main holdup was its mid-Victorian layout, which left targets from The Yellow Book to yellow journalism looking very much like Punch. Big change only came in 1949, when art editor Kenneth Bird (a.k.a. the cartoonist “Fougasse”) became the first visual thinker to get the top job. He introduced modern design and typography but left the editorial mix mostly intact. Circulation, which had peaked around 175,000 in 1947, was 130,000 when he stepped down at the end of 1952.

3 early Punch parodies
Punch on The Yellow Book (Feb. 2, 1895), The New Age (May 4, 1910) and picture weeklies (April 13, 1910)

To replace Bird, owner/printers Bradbury & Agnew named Malcolm Muggeridge, the 49-year-old Deputy Editor of the Daily Telegraph. He was an unlikely choice. The typical Punch editor had been a long-time staffer who had mastered the mag’s clubby ways and shared its Tory politics. Muggeridge was a self-described “incurable journalist” who had never written for Punch and claimed not to read it. Though born into the Labour Party — his father was briefly an M.P. — he became a fervent anti-Communist and Christian apologist after covering Moscow in the 1930s, yet he never lost his innate contempt for wealth, power and conventional opinion, right or left. Mainly he liked to stir things up, first in print and later on TV talk shows. With his sardonic eyebrows and lipless grin, he even looked like Mr. Punch, although he claimed to have no sense of humor — or need one: His job, he said, was to “throw a firecracker into a mausoleum.”

MM, 1953

Muggeridge lasted only five years at Punch — the length of his starting contract, which neither side felt like renewing — but he made a century’s worth of changes. Out went whimsical anecdotes, flower-bordered poems and Richard Doyle’s 1847 cover; in came biting political cartoons, topical satire and celebrity bylines. Not everything worked, but the shake-up got Punch talked about and boosted sales, though readers eventually tired of the constant jeering. (Published numbers for Punch circulation are few and suspiciously round: Muggeridge told The New York Times in early 1956 it was “150,000 and still rising.” When he left at the end of 1957 it was “around 100,000 and decreasing at the rate of 2,000 a week,” according to industry journal Smith’s Trade News.)

Caricature of Churchill in Punch
WSC, 1954

“Of all Muggeridge’s devices for increasing interest . . . two stood out,” R.G.G. Price says in his History of Punch: “the Press parodies, with their typographical gaiety and literary quality, and his calculated exhibitions of what die-hard readers considered bad taste and potential readers considered a sign that Punch was not dead after all.” The bad taste was most potent in the political cartoons; Leslie Illingworth’s 1954 drawing an listless, post-stroke Winston Churchill produced a flurry of cancellations. The parodies, Price says, sprang from Muggeridge’s “childlike love and wonder for the Press” and his habit of seeing parody as “a form of invective rather than of criticism” — though they seem subtle by current standards.

Junior editions from 1954
Juvenile versions of the Evening Standard and Daily Mirror (1954)

Whatever his motives, Muggeridge ran six feature-length press parodies and a handful of one-pagers. Though uncredited, most were written by J.B. Boothroyd and Richard Mallett, with art by Norman Mansbridge and Russell Brockbank. Of the longer parodies, four appeared between Spring 1954 and Spring 1955 in the oversize seasonal numbers; the later two ran in issues built around a single theme.

The Parodies:

  • April 7, 1954: The New Yorker (“The N*w Y*rk*r”), 8 pages.
  • Sept. 1, 1954: Daily Express (“Junior Express”), 1.
  • Sept. 1, 1954: Daily Mirror (“Junior Mirror”), 1.
  • Sept. 15, 1954: The Tatler & Bystander (“The T*tl*r & Byst*nd*r”), 4 no cover.
  • Sept. 29, 1954: Radio Times (“R*d*o T*m*s”), 1, no cover.
  • Oct. 13, 1954: Time (article: “Miscellany”), 0.33 [1 column], no cover.
  • Dec. 15, 1954: Genre: women’s (“Her”), 6.
  • April 6, 1955: Krokodil, 4.
  • Aug. 24, 1955:  Radio Times (“Tradio Times”), 6.
  • Nov. 7, 1956: Reader’s Digest (“Redigested Digest”), 7 on 4.
Pages of Punch New Yorker
“S.J. P-r-l-m-n” and “Edm-nd W-ls-n” in the 1954 “N*w Y*rk*r”

The biggest and most famous was the first — an eight-page takeoff of The New Yorker in the 1954 Spring Number. Printed on slick paper with full-color front and back covers, “The N*w Y*rk*r” was delayed payback for its target’s 1934 “Paunch” (previous post) and proved just as popular on newsstands: The issue disappeared so fast Punch had to buy copies back from readers for its own files (or so I was told when I stopped by the office 20 years later). Price calls Mallett’s spoof of S.J. Perelman “the high-water mark” of Punch parodies, and it’s one of the few anywhere that rivals the original for linguistic pyrotechnics. I’m partial to the brief duet between Ogden Nash and Phyllis McGinley, and Boothroyd’s takedown of Edmund Wilson at his most Anglophobic.

Real Tatler and Punch parody
Punch ignored Tatler’s traditional all-ads front cover to spoof the opening-page portrait.

Punch reached Peak Parody in September-October 1954, beginning with contrasting kiddie versions of the staunchly conservative Daily Express, then a relatively serious broadsheet, and the pro-Labour Daily Mirror, which favored crime stories and cheesecake. “The T*tl*r & Byst*nd*r” in the 1954 Fall Number took on the leading chronicler of high society, which started as The Tatler in 1901, merged with rival Bystander in 1940 and was Tina Brown’s lauchpad to Condé Nast in the 1980s. Norman Mansbridge’s mock-photo illustrations here show a comic craftsmanship equal to anything Harvey Kurtzman’s gang was doing in Mad and Trump. It was followed by brief spoofs of esoteric BBC Radio listings and Time’s offbeat “Miscellany” column (both sitting ducks).

Her and four real women's magazines
“Her,” three 1950s targets and near-namesake She

“Her” in the 1954 Christmas issue parodied weekly magazines for housewives, as they were then called. Bearing such titles as Woman’s Weekly (launched 1911), Women & Home (1926), Women’s Own (1932) and just plain Woman (1937), they were a notch or two above supermarket tabloids and several notches below slick U.S. monthlies like McCall’s. Confusingly, three months after Punch’s parody appeared, the National Magazine Company launched a new title aimed at “young, gay, elegant” postwar women who wanted more from life than the domestic pieties satirized in “Her.” Its name: She. Coincidence or Fleet Street in-joke?

Du Maurier Punch (1888), Mansbridge in Punch’s “Krokodil” (1955)

The parody of Russian humor weekly Krokodil in the 1955 Spring Number flayed two of Muggeridge’s favorite targets: Soviet Communism and Punch itself (which he more than once called “an allegedly humorous publication”). While the written pieces play up the iron teeth behind Krokodil’s state-sanctioned grin, the cartoons transfer some of Punch’s most famous gags from the 19th Century to contemporary Russia but leave them otherwise un-updated. Trust Muggeridge to display the family heirlooms in a deliberately unflattering setting.

Punch's Krokodil and Radio Times parodies
MId-50s issues of Krokodil and Radio Times, flanked by Punch’s version (both 1955)

The coming of commercial television inspired a second takeoff of the BBC’s program guide, Radio Times (founded 1923 as Radio Times and never retitled). The page of fake radio listings the year before had been an almost affectionate sendup of the wireless division’s fondness for the obscure and undramatic. “Tradio Times” — as in, “being in trade” (sniff) — is an all-out and rather snobbish attack on the threat to public taste and intelligence posed by for-profit TV, which debuted in London the week the parody appeared. The authors try to imagine the worst in their “journal of the I.T.A.” — the Independent Television Authority — but reality has long since outrun satire: “Tradio’s” tropes include kids’ shows that are basically one long commercial, programs entirely about shopping, “film sequences of kittens at play” and, most popular of all, a reality series about a clan of shallow materialists called “The Trump Family.” I didn’t make that up.

Tradio Times listings
Premonitions and product placement in “Tradio Times” (1955)

More than a year went by before “Redigested Digest” appeared in November 1956, and there were no press parodies at all in 1957, Muggeridge’s last year. At least the series ended on high note. For my money, “Redigested Digest” is Punch’s best press parody ever, and the best anywhere at catching the contradictory soul of Reader’s Digest: its All-American universalism, its fondness for “characters” and even greater fondness for conformity, its fascination with new inventions and suspicion of new ideas. Punch’s “Digest” is as artfully crafted as “The N*w Y*rk*er” and much more incisive, though not nearly as famous. To help remedy that, I’ve posted all six (on three) pages here.

Redigested Digest, part 1
Alarm and affirmation: “Digest,” part 1

The “Digest’s” only flaw was bad timing: It was the centerpiece of a long-planned issue about the United States scheduled to coincide with the 1956 Presidential election. Eisenhower’s easy win turned out to be the third-biggest story that week, however, after the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the climax of the Suez Canal crisis. The issue hit the stands just days after the U.S. forced the U.K., France and Israel to end their attack on Egypt, which demolished Britain’s remaining claims to be a Great Power and caused a brief but steep drop in Anglo-American amity. Not the best time to market 30 pages of mostly good-natured kidding about Uncle Sam’s worldwide reach.

Redigested Digest, part 2
Quiz and gee-whiz: “Digest,” part 2

None of the standard sources explain why Punch basically abandoned press parodies after the mid-50s, but the drought continued under Bernard Hollowood, editor from 1958 to 1968. It only ended in 1971, when Hollowood’s successor William Davis devoted most of an issue to parodying Playboy. Like “The N*w Y*rk*r” before it, “Punch Goes Playboy” sold out and inspired a run of similar features. But that’s a subject for another post. — VCR.

Redigested Digest, part 3
Catastrophe and condensation: “Digest,” part 3

Wisconsin Octopus Parodies, 1920-1959

Six Octopus parodies.

The Magazine

Before The Onion, the most famous humor magazine to come out of Madison was the University of Wisconsin Octopus, b. November 1919, d. 1959, after UW officials found the May issue so offensive they extinguished the title. The editors did ask for it: On one page they reproduced an official warning to quit printing smut like the previous issue; on the others they parodied Playboy. The cover of “Blayboy” — a takeoff on Playboy’s for the same month — showed the mag’s eight-handed mascot joining three startled young ladies in a bubble bath. Bye bye, Octy.

Covers of Playboy and parody

Though they shared a cover date, Playboy’s May issue came out several weeks before Octy’s “Blayboy.” Right: Official displeasure

Sixty years on, Wisconsin seems willing to forgive and remember: There are now 281 Octopus issues in the UW Digital Collection, where they can be read by just anybody. “Blayboy” is represented only by a cover and its smutty predecessor is missing entirely, but most of the rest are on hand. Rather than link to individual issues, here’s the whole set.

First Octopus cover

Vol. 1, no. 1

Octy was UW’s third humor magazine, following the Sphinx (1899-1913) — also online, though I haven’t found any parody issues — and the short-lived Awk (1915-1917). It was started privately by three students who turned it over to the school after two profitable issues. The U. mostly left it alone, though a “risque cartoon” in 1928 “led for a time to a closer review of all material by the faculty majority on the Octy board of directors,” says UW’s official history. Despite vowing in its first editorial to make “no attempt to issue numbers regularly,” Octy appeared eight to ten times a year for 23 years before pausing for World War II. Its return in 1946 was misnumbered Vol. 25, an error never corrected.

1939's one-page Life spoof

Spoofing Life, 1939

Octy flourished in the ’20s. The history tells of “glossy, quarto-sized issues running as many as sixty-four pages, colored covers, clever cartoons and graphics by student artists, and humorous prose and poetry.” At the depth of the Depression issues shrank to sixteen pages and the price fell from a quarter to a dime, but for most of the ’30s Octy was “a handsome, professional-looking magazine, better in design that most of its peers, and nearly as attractive as Vanity Fair or [The] New Yorker, on both of whom it had a noticable crush,” according to uwalumni.com. It ranked high in college humor polls and sometimes addressed serious subjects: A 1938 story by future New York Times reporter Leonard Silk exposed the Fascist leanings of a new Wisconsin-based third party called the National Progressives, and in 1939 the mag ridiculed the DAR for not allowing Marian Anderson to sing at Independence Hall.

The first sign of postwar trouble was a nearly year-long gap after the December 1951 issue. When the mag reappeared in November 1952 it was briefly called The New Octopus, though editor Ken Eichenbaum joked(?) that it looked “so damn much like the old one that six of us have decided to hang it up and transfer to Marquette.” He didn’t even mention the long hiatus. Octy retrenched to six issues a year, briefly tried a “more mature” policy and hit the financial rocks in 1955-56. “Too many students are READING the Octy without BUYING it,” grumbled an ad in the May 1956 issue, which begged for a thousand students to pledge — “NOW!” — to subscribe next fall. They didn’t, and Octy vanished for three semesters, reappearing with three issues in spring 1958 and three more in ’58-59. The last twitch was an undated reprint collection the next year that failed to spark a fourth revival. Three decades would pass before UW produced another nationally known humor rag.

1951 DailyCardinal parody

Cover and three inside pages from Octy’s 1953 “Daily Cardinal” issue

II: The Parodies

Octy's 1920 "Vie Parisienne" cover.

May 1920

Though it modeled a cover on France’s racy La Vie Parisienne its first year, Octy produced few parodies before the 1930s and only about two dozen total. Nearly half were of the student newspaper, always impersonated under its real name: the Daily Cardinal. Most Cardinal parodies appeared as magazine pages on authentic (and cheaper) newsprint, though in 1953 a tabloid was printed separately and folded into the March number. (Such inserts tend to stray; the UWDC has the mag but no paper.) Octy’s “Cardinals” were dryer and funnier than most such efforts and not afraid to razz local heavyweights, including Wisconsin’s junior U.S. Senator from 1947 to 1957, Joe McCarthy.

Covers of Chicago Tribune and Time parodies

The Tribune was Octy’s only off-campus newspaper target, Time the only magazine hit twice.

Octy’s first big parodee was the Police Gazette, traditional reading matter of barber shops and saloons. It was a relic of grandpa’s day even in 1929, but the Bootleg Era saw the 1890s the way later generations saw the ’20s: as the last time people knew how to have fun. This foolery was followed by a jaundiced look at Hearst’s jingoistic Sunday magazine The American Weekly in 1935 and an even sharper mauling of the arch-Republican Chicago Tribune in ’38, cowritten by Leonard Silk. Octy didn’t attempt a cover-to-cover parody until 1949, when it put Republican Gov. Oscar Rennebohm, a very dark horse in the 1952 presidential stakes, inside the red borders of “Timf.” After that, parodies came out almost annually.

Pages from Octy's Life parody

Collegiate whimsey meets Korea and custom cars in Octy’s “Liff,” 1953

The 1949 Badger yearbook called “Timf” the magazine’s “best post-war issue” and claimed it outsold the Daily Cardinal. The 1950 edition called “The Old Yorker” “the editorial and financial high point of the year.” My choice for best mock Oc is 1953’s “Liff.” Too many college parodists were content to focus Life’s wide-ranging lens on their own anthills and play the findings relatively straight; Octy highjacked the format to satirize Hollywood movies, Congressional hearings, cheesecake photos and Life itsef: “We do not believe in slanting words or pictures,” the lead editorial declared. “People look too thin that way.” Even the Korean stalemate was played for laughs in the “war memoirs” of a male-turned-female photographer named after Marguerite Higgins but inspired by Christine (née George) Jorgensen, who in early 1953 was as famous as Mamie Eisenhower.

Real 1950 Flair cover

Flair, Feb. 1950

Octy’s oddest parody was “Flare,” a sendup of Flair. The brainchild of Fleur Cowles, wife of Look publisher Garnder Cowles, Flair was a lavish monthly blend of heavyweight bylines, trendy arts coverage and innovative graphic design, featuring pekaboo covers, half-size and translucent pages, bound-in booklets and accordion foldouts. It appeared for exactly one year starting February 1950 and was four months dead when “Flare” appeared in May 1951. Two years later, a parody of campus mag The Wisconsin Idea coincided with the real thing’s last issue. Thereafter Octy picked sturdier targets: Life, Mademoiselle, Time again (with Athletic Director Ivan B. Williamson on the cover) and, fatally, Playboy.

Octopus Parodies of the Wisconsin Daily Cardinal, 1932-1958:

(Issues are listed by volume and number in the Digital Collection, so I’ve included that.)

  • The Daily Cardinal, Vol. 13, no. 6, Feb. 1932 (16 pages + 1 cover)
  • —–, Vol. 15, no. 6, Feb. 1934  (18, some with real ads)
  • —–, Vol. 18, no. 6, Feb. 1937  (13, inc. 3-page “Collegiate Digest” photo section)
  • —–, Vol. 20, no. 8, April 1939 (4)
  • —–, Vol. 22, no. 3, Nov. 1941 (4)
  • —–, Vol. 25, no.6, Feb. 1947 (4)
  • —–, Vol. 26, no. 6, Feb. 1948 (8 + 1c)
  • —–, Vol. 27, no.7, March 1949 (8 + 1c)
  • —–, Vol. 28, no. 3, Nov. 1949 (8 + 1c)
  • —–, Vol. 29, no. 5, Feb.-March 1951 (8, called “1950 [1951]” online)
  • —–, Vol. 31, no. 4, March 1953 (insert, not online)
  • —–, (“Tri-Weakly Cardinal”), Vol. 32, no. 5, March 1954 (8)
  • —–, Summer 1958 (4, tabloid)

Other Octopus Parodies, 1920-1959:

  • La Vie Parisienne (“La Vie Wisconsienne”), Vol. 1, no. 5, May 1920 (cover only)
  • Police Gazette, Vol. 11, no. 1, September 25, 1929 (16 + 1c)
  • American Weekly (“American Weakly”), Vol. 17, no. 4, Dec. 1935 (10) (called “Vol. 15 [17]” online)
  • Chicago Daily Tribune, Vol. 20. no. 4, December 1938 (4)
  • Life (article: “Life Discloses the Happy Weekend of a Wisconsin Coed”), Vol. 21, no. 3, Nov. 1939 (1)
  • Time (“Timf”), Vol. 27, no. 5, Jan. 18, 1949 (44 + 4c)
  • The New Yorker (“The Old Yorker”), Vol. 28, no. 8, April 1950 (40 + 4c)
  • Flair (“Flare”), Vol. 29, no. 7, May 1951 (36 + 4c)
  • The Wisconsin Idea (“The Wisconsin Idear”), Vol. 31, no. 4, March 1953 (10)
  • Life (“Liff”), Vol. 31, no. 5, April 1953 (40 + 4c)
  • Mademoiselle (“Madmoiselle … and the Arts”), Vol. 33, no. 2, Dec. 1954, (28 + 4c)
  • Time (“Tum”), Vol. 34, no. 4, Feb. 1956 (28 + 4c)
  • Playboy (“Blayboy”), May 1959 (not online)

Sources:

E. David Cronon and John W. Jenkins. The University of Wisconsin: A History: Volume III: Politics, Depression, and War, 1925-1945 (U. of Wisconsin Press, 1994), pp 626-629.

Matt Rogge. “Through the Eyes of the Octopus,” uwalumni.com, posted July 12, 2017.

— VCR

Parodies of Mad, 1954-2019

Covers of 8 Mad parodies

Top: Crazy (1959), National Lampoon (1971), Bijou Funnies (1973), Hans Gamber (1986); bottom: West Point Pointer (1983), Simpsons Comics (2013), Syracuse Syracusan (1957), Esquire (1964)

Some folks can’t handle success. Last year, Mad (b. 1952) passed Judge (1881-1947) to become the longest-lived U.S. humor magazine, newsstand division. This summer, it announced its October 2019 issue — number 9 of the current series — would be the last to run all-new material. Number 10 has since emerged looking just as new, so the obits need updating, but number 9 is still a keeper for its clever recreation of Mad’s mid-’60s heyday.

Cover and 2 pages of Mad Tarantino issue

Tom Richmond channels Jack Davis (left) and Mort Drucker (right) in Mad # 9 (Oct. 2019).

TV Guide and Mad parodies from the film

Leo-as-Rick by Tom-as-Jack; cover of the DVD bonus.

The “Special Taratino Time Warp Issue” — actually, the first twelve pages plus covers — began as a prop in Quentin T.’s latest film, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood!, set in 1969. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, a fading TV star whose one hit was an early-’60’s oater called Bounty Law. Tarantino commissioned Mad’s Tom Richmond to forge Jack Davis-style covers of Leo-as-Rick for Mad and TV Guide. The job grew to include a five-page Bounty Law spoof, “Lousy Law,” written by Andrew Secundo and drawn by Richmond in a fine pastiche of Mort Drucker’s early duoshade work. (They also did a second, digest-size parody for the film’s high-priced deluxe home edition.) “I was totally blown away by how much screen time [the art got] and how big it was displayed,” Richmond told the Washington Post’s Michael Cavna.

“Lousy Law” is the heart of the “Time Warp,” which also recycles Harvey Kurtzman’s nymphs-and-satyrs nameplate, an early Al Jaffee Fold-In, and real and fake ads. Peter Kuper apes Antonio Prohias’s “Spy vs. Spy” look, and Jon Adams approximates Dave Berg in a “Lighter Side” that links then to now and ushers in the rest of the issue. It’s a good-looking piece of self-kidding nostalgia and a convenient excuse to run this semi-comprehensive list of parodies of Mad. (For parodies in Mad, see here.)

Cover-only parodies not discussed here.

Not present: Cover-only parodies like these from Mod (1981), NatLamp (Aug. 1971), Wax Paper (Oct. 1978), Esquire and Texas Monthly (both June 1992), Weird Fiction Review #3 (2012), and Der Spiegel (July 20, 2019) are discussed nowhere in the text.

The list doesn’t include the dozens of wannabes examined in two excellent books: John Benson’s The Sincerest Form of Parody (2012) and Craig Yoe and Ger Apeldoorn’s Behaving Madly (2017). Nor does it note every publication that morphed a cover subject into Alfred or faked a Fold-In. The following vary in length and quality, but all have some heft: Most run three-plus pages and parody several articles; the handful that don’t have a mock cover are so noted.

Panel from "The Seventh Schlemiel"

J.S. Martin in “MADvocate” (1980)

The cover, “Spy vs. Spy,” Fold-In, Don Martin and “Lighter Side” are the most copied features, by my count. Only the bravest parodists attempt Drucker-style movie satires: The most successful before “Lousy Law” are Ernie Colon’s “Citizen Gaines” in National Lampoon and Jeff S. Martin’s “Seventh Schlmiel” in the Harvard Lampoon’s “MADvocate,” which is by far the best student spoof. Also the briefest.

Parodists have viewed Mad with feeling ranging from adoration to contempt, but their laughter is mostly affectionate. I’ve sorted them into four groups based on attitude and affiliation: the Usual Gang itself,  rivals and critics, college humorists, and miscellanous fans.

Parodies of Mad, 1954-2019, . . .

. . . by Mad Itself:

  • “Julius Caesar,” Mad #17, Nov. 1954, 7 pp., no cover.
  • “How to Put Out an Imitation of Mad,” Mad #41, Sept. 1958, 2 pp., no cover.
  • “Some Mad Articles You Never Got to See,” Mad #120, July 1968, 8 pp., no cover.
  • “Madde,” bonus in Mad Super Special #19, Fall 1976, 24 pp.
  • “The Book of Mad,” Mad #243, Dec. 1983, 5 pp.
  • “Mad: Tarantino Time Warp Edition,” Mad #9 (new series), Oct. 2019, 12 pp + 4c.
  • “Mad: No. 98, Oct. ’65,” bonus in Once Upon a Time . . . In Hollywood! 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition, Dec. 2019, 24 pp.

Mad could kid its own formulas but had no desire to share them. In the comic, Kurtzman and Wallace Wood namecheck eleven rivals, including EC stablemate Panic, then break the fourth wall to “point out the various routines” in “a typical-type lampoon” of the 1953 film Julius Caesar. The assumption that Mad pioneered those routines hovers unspoken. By contrast, “How to . . .” openly and sourly attacks Mad-the-mag’s copycats, some of whom sassed back. It’s less a parody than a humor-mag parts catalogue, but it reveals the professional pride behind the what-me-worry facade.

Panels from Mad self-parodies,

Clockwise from left: “How to Put out an Imitation of Mad” (1958) and “Julius Caesar” (1954), George Woodbridge in “Madde”(1976), a Berg’s-Eye View “You Never Got to See” (1968)

Later self-parodies are less meta. “Some Mad Articles You Never Got to See,” by Frank Jacobs, presents a dozen that supposedly “ended up dull” or otherwise misfired. Most are bland except “The Lighter Side of Death,” a cringe-worthy takeoff of Dave Berg drawn by Berg himself. In “Madde,” the Gang travel back to the Revolutionary Era for some Bicentennial satire. Lou Silverstone does the same for Biblical times in “The Book of Mad,” cramming a Noah’s Ark cover and seven story ideas into five pages.

. . . by Rivals & Critics:

  • “How To Put Out An Imitation of ‘Angry’,” Thimk #4, Dec. 1958, 1 p., no cover.
  • “How To Put Out An Imitation of Frantic,” Frantic #2, Dec. 1958, 2 pp., no cover.
  • “Bad,” Crazy, Charlton Publications, March 1959, 6 pp.
  • “Special Sophistication Issue: Bad,” Esquire, Aug. 1964, 5 pp.
  • “Mad,” National Lampoon, Oct. 1971, 15 pp.
  • “You Know You’re Grown Up When . . .” (article), National Lampoon, Sept. 1977, 2 pp., no cover.
  • “Mud,” in Trash, Trash Publishing Inc., March 1978, 10 pp.
  • “Müd,” ed. by Hans Gamber, Maya Verlag, Munich, Germany, 1986, 36 pp.
  • “Mad” [with “a” inverted], Barf #1, Revolutionary Comics, April 1990, 2 pp + 2c.

Pages from Crazy and Trash magazines.

Mocking Mad merch in Crazy’s “Bad” (1959) and Trash’s “Mud” (1978)

“How To Put Out an Imitation of Mad” didn’t go unanswered. Loco ran “How to Be A Copy-Cat” in October 1958; the next month Frenzy reprinted bits from Judge, Ballyhoo and the old Life in “How to Take All The Credit For Originating a Humor Magazine.” Thimk and Frantic piled on in December with parodies of the original story. The biggest pushback was “Bad,” a six-page look at “the great humor magazine that invented satire” (sarc.) in This Magazine Is Crazy, by future Mad and television writer Gary Belkin and artist Tony Couch, Jr. It mocks several long-gone features including Bob and Ray’s skits and the t-shirt ad. Trash delivered the most recent assault in its March 1978 debut; “Mud” looks a bit like Mad, but so do the 42 derivative pages around it. Though uncredited, it’s likely the work of  Trash editor Tony Tallarico.

Mad spoofs from Esquire and Barf

Two pages from Esquire’s “Bad” (1964); cover and page of Barf’s “Mad” (1990)

“For some time I too have been intrigued by the idea of doing a takeoff of Mad . . . and I wondered if it could be done,” Mad’s Larry Siegel wrote Esquire after its “Bad” appeared. “Well, I just saw yours, and believe me it hasn’t been done yet.” He went on to call the parody “cruel, vicious” and “more heavy-handed than Mad at its worst,” and ended with: “The guy who did your piece should have studied his subject more. You don’t do a takeoff of Mad simply by filling your article with ‘mainly,’ ‘gang,’ and ‘ecch.'” Siegel was too kind: Mad à la Esquire is an unrecognizable stew of horror comic, gags-and-gals humor and bathroom graffiti. Illustrator Blake Hampton may have glanced at the source material but didn’t bother imitating specific artists.

By contrast, National Lampoon’s John Boni, Sean Kelly and Henry Beard approached the job with the intensity of  ex-lovers. Though uneven, their “Mad” (see also here) comes closest to meeting Siegel’s standards — unlike the two-page filler “You Know You’re a Grown-Up When . . .” six years later. Munich’s Hans Gamber translated these and other NatLamp pieces in his spoof of Mad’s German edition, “Müd” (which, with umlaut, means “Tired”). I believe it’s the only Mad parody published outside the U.S. San Diego comic Barf offered humor in a punk-grunge-anarchist vein from 1990 to slightly later in 1990 (three issues); it gave fuddy-duddy Mad the finger in a few snide pages and is mainly notable for beginning on the back cover.

. . . by College Humor Magazines:

  • “Dam,” Syracuse Syracusan, March 1957, 32 pp.
  • “????,” Michigan Gargoyle, 1957-58, ?? pp.
  • “Mud,” U. of Massachusetts Yahoo, January 1965, 32 pp. + 4 c.
  • “MADvocate,” Harvard Lampoon, April 1980, 5 pp., no cover.
  • “Grad,” West Point Pointer, May 1983, 23 (of 44) pp. + 4 c.

Pages from college Mad parodies

Pages from Syracuse (1957), cover from U. Mass (1965), back cover from West Point (1983)

Mad was required reading for college humorists in the 1950s and ’60s, but most knew they lacked the chops to make a reasonable facsimile. The Syracusan tried anyway in March 1957, when black-and-white Mad was just two years old. “Dam” contains nearly 30 pages of original illustrated stories; many are funny, but they’d never pass for the real thing. Yahoo’s “Mud” and the Pointer’s “Grad” are cruder, though “Mud” found a clever way around Mad’s plug-free purity in “If Comic Strip Characters Patronized Our Advertisers.”

Two pages of the Lampoon's Madvocate

Two-fifths of the Harvard Lampoon’s 1980 Mad-Advocate merger

The Lampoon’s mashup of Mad with the highbrow Harvard Advocate starts with a strong premise and dispatches it in five brisk pages: Contents, Movie, “Don Martin,” Fold-In. Future Simpsons showrunners Mike Reiss and Al Jean, both ’91, contributed. Gargoyle’s parody is the big unknown: The 1958 Michigan yearbook says “this year’s Garg staff . . . satirized Mad,” but the Michigan Daily’s reviews don’t mention it. Anybody got a copy?

. . . by Fans:

  • “73,” 73 magazine, Wayne Green Inc., April 1967, 3 pp. + 1 c.
  • Bijou Funnies #8, Kitchen Sink Press, 1973, 36 pp.
  • Screw #1013, Milky Way Productions, Inc., Aug. 1, 1988, ?? pp.
  • Jab #1, Cummings Design Group, Spring 1993, 24 pp. + 4 c.
  • “Bits and Pieces,” Hustler, Sept. 1995, 13 pp.
  • Chunklet #14, pub. by Henry H. Owings, 1998, 2 pp. + 2 c.
  • The Comics Journal, Fantagraphics, July 2000, 3 pp. + 2c.
  • We’re MAD … about Machine Vision, Cognex Corp., Dec. 31, 2002, 12 pp + 1c.
  • “D’oh,” in Simpsons Comics #203, Bongo Comics Group, June 3, 2013, 7 pp. + 1c.

Pages from 73 and Bijou

Cover and Spies from 73 (1967); opening page from Bijou (1973)

Sometimes, kids who fall in love with Mad grow into adults with access to printing presses; the results can turn up anywhere from porn mags to earnings reports. In 1967, Wayne Pierce drew an Alfred E. Neuman cover and “Ham vs. Ham” for the amateur radio monthly, 73. (The title is short-wave for “Best Regards.”) R. Crumb, Bill Griffith and other heavyweights mocked each other’s creations in the eighth and final issue of Bijou Funnies in the spirit of Mad comics. Editor Jay Lynch wrote an EC-style anti-censorship editorial and parodied Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. The cover was drawn by fabulous though not furry Harvey Kurtzman, who started the whole thing.

Cover of Screw (1988)

Screw (1988)

Screw’s August 1, 1988, front shows owner Al Goldstein grinning gap-toothed beneath the headline “Alfred E. Neuman’s Sex Secrets” as his old pal Bill Gaines vomits in the background. (Don’t ask how Screw treated people Goldstein didn’t like.) Inside are a long interview with Gaines and X-rated spoofs of Berg, Martin and the spies. Those features also turn up in Hustler’s 1995 salute, along with “You Know Your Girlfriend’s a Slut When…” and similar delicacies. It’s one of the longest Mad parodies at thirteen pages and captures Mad’s look and rhythm, but the humor ranges from juvenile to hateful and too many panels are “improved” by ‘shopped-in nudes.

Chunklet was a music and comedy magazine out of Athens, Georgia, known for its putdowns of “overrated” acts (basically all of them) and unhurried schedule (twenty issues in fifteen years, the last in 2008). Issue #14, undated but copyright 1998, says “completely Mad” up front but delivers only a bleakly funny “Pomo Spy vs. Pomo Spy” by Ted Rall and an advertiser’s Fold-In. There are clues that a longer parody was planned and dropped: Chunklet.com calls #14 “The Mad Magazine Issue, a.k.a. The Cease & Desist Issue.” The cover of The Comics Journal #225 was painted by Kelly Freas, Mad’s cover artist from 1958 to 1962; TCJ also imitated Mad’s contents, letters pages and Fold-In to plug interviews with Jaffee, Jack Davis and Al Feldstein.

Pages from Chunklet and Comics Journal

Chunklet’s cover and Ted Rall’s pomo Spies (1993); TCJ’s cover and Fold-In (2000)

Cognex Corp. of Massachusetts makes robotic gadgets that can see defective products on assembly lines. In 2002, founder Robert Shillman got so “MAD about the negative effect of the worldwide economic slowdown” he made it the theme of the company’s annual report. The usual one-pagers are present, all involving gags about machine-vision quality-control systems. Highlights are the uncredited Norman Mingo-style cover and the very idea of doing such a thing. Jab was a humor mag out of Birmingham, Alabama, in the early ’90s that doubled as a sampler for publisher Frank Cumming’s design firm; all four issues contain Mad-like illustrated satires, but only #1 makes the connection explicit.

Mad parodies by Jab, Cognex and Simpsons Comics

Covers from Jab (1993) and Cognex (2002); “Don Martin” by Cognex and Simpsons Comics (2013)

Simpsons Comics #203 may be the most loving tribute: The lead story is about Krusty the Clown’s attempts to profit off Bart’s hand-drawn comic book “Bad” (renamed “D’oh!” because the title was too close to goth monthly “Sad”). The flip-side samples “D’oh” itself, bending the usual Simpsons line just enough to hat-tip Drucker, Martin and Aragones. Bongo Comics shut down last October after Simpsons Comics #245, and Mad is tottering, so I’ll close with the final panel of “The Rise and Fall of D’oh.” —VCR

Simpson's panel of "Doh!" mag's funeral

Online: Collier’s WW3 & Shaft’s “Collera’s,” 1951-52

Collier's cover and Shaft's parody

Collier’s cover, by Richard Deane Taylor (1951), and Shaft’s response (1952).

Parody Of: Collier’s, Oct. 27, 1951. Title:Collera’s,” for Oct. 27, 1951
In: U. of Illinois Shaft, Jan. 1952. Format: 13 b&w pages + 1 cover.

Magazine parodies rarely focus on one particular issue of their subjects, but the “preview” of World War III that filled Collier’s on October 27, 1951, made a big enough splash to earn its own spoof. Printed copies are scarce, but luckily both have been posted online in their entirety. (Links above.) Together they capture the nation’s jittery mood during the coldest years of the Cold War, between the outbreak of fighting in Korea in 1950 and the death of Stalin in 1953.

Mushrooms over Moscow in Collier’s, Oct. 27, 1951.

Collier’s’ what-if was assembled by associate editor Cornelius Ryan, future author of The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far, after “study and consultation with top political, military and economic thinkers, including high-level Washington officials and foreign-policy experts.” Supposedly written in 1960, it begins in 1952, when a bungled Soviet attempt to assassinate Yugoslavia’s Marshall Tito sets the tanks rolling. The Good Guys eventually win, but only after millions on both sides die in A-bomb attacks. (Alt-history buffs should read Ron Miller’s detailed play-by-play at GorillaWorldPress.com.) After that bitter pill, a score of writers from Arthur Koestler to Walter Winchell share their visions of the next postwar world, where communism is defunct and Moscow hosts fashion shows.

The assumption there would be a world post-War No. 3 may strike today’s readers as the least likely part of the scenario, especially after they see Chesley Bonestell’s lurid, full-page paintings of the Kremlin, U.S. Capitol and other landmarks melting under nuclear fireballs. But the hydrogen bomb was still under wraps in 1951; A-bombs were relatively small and hard to come by, and the dangers of fallout largely unknown. Within a few years all that changed, opening the gates for apocalypses like On the Beach (1957) and Red Alert (1958), the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

Excerpts from Collier's and Shaft

Collier’s (left) and “Collera’s” make their cases.

The sober realists in Collier’s roundup could still picture total war ending in victory — they’d seen it happen, nukes and all, just six years earlier — and the contributors who had dealt with Stalin’s regime weren’t shy about hailing its demise in essays titled “Freedom at Long Last” and “We Worship God Again.” Lest this seem a bit trigger-happy, the editors reminded readers this was a “PREVIEW OF THE WAR WE DO NOT WANT” across dozens of pages in prophylactic capitals. Meanwhile, all the usual features and fillers were either dropped or drafted into service, including the usually featherweight love story and cartoons. Mike Ingram of bookfightpod.com recently called the result “one part anti-communist propaganda and one part teenage war fantasy.” Some early-’50s readers felt a similar disconnect: As the parody put it, “Oh, do we hate war. Ugh! Here’s a whole issue about it.”

Shaft, Jan. 1952

That jibe appeared not in some pinko-pacifist Greenwich Village organ but in Shaft, the off-campus humor magazine at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Set up by returning World War II vets as a for-profit business, Shaft at first pledged “to avoid the pitfalls of smutty material which have wrecked every previous attempt to publish a strictly college humor mag here,” the Daily Illini reported in 1947. In reality, it soon migrated to the gals-‘n’-gags end of the college-humor spectrum, correctly assuming its mostly male readers would overlook primitive design and sloppy paste-up if given enough raunch. Future film critic Gene Shalit and Mad writer Larry Siegel boosted the satire content in early years, while an ambitious young man named Hugh Hefner supplied cartoons.

Shaft was a headache for U. of I. officials from the start, despite never being their baby. The end came when copies of the “lewd” April 1954 issue were sold to high-schoolers in town for their statewide basketball tournament. Offended parents blamed the U., which threatened “disciplinary action” against students aiding and abetting Shaft. The mag cut local ties and moved to Chicago, where it lasted another year.

Covers of Shaft's other parodies.

Shaft also mocked the Post (1950), Esquire (1951) and fan mags (1952), the last featuring MM.

Shaft ran only four magazine parodies in its seven years in Champaign. A 14-page “Saturday Evening Pest” filled the back half of the October 1950 issue, followed by “Esqueer” in the same spot in April 1951. The next school year brought “Collera’s” and a generic movie mag called “Succulent Screen” in January and April 1952. All four reused art and headlines from their targets, which if not cheating is still the laziest way to achieve a likeness. Only “Collera’s” put much satiric spin on its model, reversing WWIII’s outcome and Collier’s’ allegiance to expose the triumphalism behind the caveats and hand-wringing.

Cartoon and Illustration from Collier's

Left: Bill Mauldin’s G.I.s Willie and Joe gave Collier’s war-gaming its most human touch. Right: Predicted Russian editions of Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Time, Life, Collier’s and SatEvePost.

“Collera’s” main target, though, is not war as much as the kind of thinking that reduces war to a thought experiment with paper casualties. Though G.I.-Bill enrollment was falling fast by 1951-52, roughly a quarter of American college men that year were World War II veterans, and the percentage was higher at tech-focused schools like Purdue. The men who created “Collera’s” had either seen war up close or were steeling themselves to face it in Korea. College mags didn’t debate the draft and foreign policy in 1950-53 with the fervor they showed in 1940-41 before Pearl Harbor, but from Yale to UCLA, old jokes about the consequences of flunking out acquired a sour edge.

Collier's and Shaft inside art.

Armageddon and absurdity in Collier’s and “Collera’s.”

Some pages of “Collera’s” are typical collegiate wackiness (the decisive battle becomes a Russian assault on U.S. canned tuna reserves). Others view official wisdom and motives with a skepticism that seems more late-’60s that early-’50s. And when the parody translates Collier’s’ uncomfortable mix of righteousness and realpolitik into Russian-accented gangster-speak (“This is only what you might be calling a helpful hint — just in case!“), it sounds positively contemporary.   —VCR

Playboy Parodies 2: U.S. Newsstands, 1957-2018

Seven Playboy parody covers

Two competing Playboy parodies; three inside other mags; two from foreign parts.

(This is the second of a now three-part series on Playboy parodies. The first dealt with college parodies; the next will cover parodies circulated outside the U.S.)

Unlike their college brethren, commercial publishers in the 1950s and ’60s showed little interest in parodying Playboy. Theft was another matter: As long as Playboy’s sales kept climbing, rivals tried to duplicate its appeal. The last and most blatant imitation was Ronald Fenton and F. Lee Bailey’s Gallery, which debuted in November 1972, the same month Playboy sold a record 7.2 million copies. Gallery aped Playboy down to the length of the title (precisely seven letters) but succumbed to sleazery within a year or so.

Cover and pages of Plowboy

Cover, ad and bachelor pad from “Plowboy.”.

The outlier was “Plowboy,” issued in 1957 by an obscure outfit in Manhattan called Bannister Publishing. “Plowboy” was the only non-college Playboy parody of the ’50s and the only one before the Harvard Lampoon’s 1966 “Pl*yb*y” with wide distribution. It acknowledges the real thing’s chief Selling Points in a dozen pages of photo-agency cheesecake, though there’s no full nudity and the “Plowmate” is a pencil drawing. The standout piece is a four-page tour of “Plowboy’s Platinum Hayloft” worthy of a funnier and subtler magazine.

Pages from Mad's Playkid

A peek at “Playkid,” Mad #61 (March 1961).

Treating the Playboy fetish for brand names and status as literally childish, Larry Siegel and Bob Clarke put more satiric bite in the seven pages of Mad’s “Playkid” than there are in all of “Plowboy.” There’s nothing smutty or suggestive, Mad being famously prudish in that regard, but the very premise of “Playkid” is radioactive today and may have prompted second thoughts even in 1961: As far as I know it’s never been reprinted.

Pages from parodies in Sick and Cracked

Pallid parodies from Sick (June 1965) and a Cracked special (1968).

Mad wannabes Cracked and Sick also tackled Playboy in the ’60s. “Boysplay,” a 16-page, comic book-size bonus in Biggest Greatest Cracked #4, is touted as a “Lampoon Edition of Playboy” on the cover but looks more like a fast-food giveaway and can’t articulate its own premise, if it has one. Sick’s “Playbore” is the skeleton of a comic idea fleshed out with two-line jokes and slapdash art. Both make excellent arguments for ignoring Cracked and Sick.

Pages from Punch's U.S. Playboy

Hefner, Punch editor William Davis and Trog’s foldout; William Hewison aping Arnold Roth.

“Punch Goes Playboy,” with Norwegian actress-model Julie Ege on the cover, took up most of the English weekly’s November 10, 1971, issue and was reprinted in the U.S. the next fall with different ads and a 75-cent cover price. Trog’s four-page caricature of a nude Hugh Hefner is the visual highlight of both editions, which otherwise suffer from murky printing and lack of color. The writing, by contrast, is dead-on, nailing Playboy’s weakness for deep-sounding thumbsuckers (“Pollution and the Post-Vietnam Ghetto Interface,” by “Dr. Morton Krimhoretz, Ph.D., Jr.”) and workaholic Hefner’s pose as a carefree hedonist: “After a hectic day’s counting,” says one caption, “our November Playmate relaxes among his matchless collection of early American balance sheets.”

Pages from Playdead, 1973

Pages from NatLamp’s “Playdead,” Jan. 1973.

Harvard’s 1966 “Pl*yb*y” was a giant step on the road to National Lampoon, which tried to duplicate the earlier book’s success by running a centerfold parody in its very first issue. (Alas, the result was an unsexy, out-of-focus mess.) NatLamp tackled Playboy twelve times between 1970 and 1988 — more than any other publication — but the pièce de résistance was “Playdead” in the January 1973 “Death” number. Visually, “Playdead” is impeccable, from the Possum logo in the cufflinks ad to Warren Sattler’s full-color fakes of cartoonists Dedini, ffolkes, Buck Brown and John Dempsey. What’s almost shocking, and all the funnier for it, is how natural Playboy’s vision of airbrushed perfection looks in a mortuary. Unafraid of either bad taste (the Interviewee was newly dead Bonanza actor Dan Blocker, silent throughout) or puns like “Playmort of the Month,” “Playdead” is one of NatLamp’s greatest parodies. The mag turned to Playboy more and more as its creative juices dried up, spoofing single features and grinding out formulaic editions for gun lovers and computers.

Covers of semi- and non-parodies.

Semi-sorta spoofs from Howard the Duck and Wings flank covers that promise but don’t deliver from Laffboy and Bleep; below: “Laffboy” pages, Crazy and Girls & Corpses.

The only other publication to run multiple Playboy parodies was Playboy itself, with samples of four unlikely new editions I’ve written about here. Marvel’s Howard the Duck magazine (1981) promised a parody on its covers but followed through with eight vaguely Playboy-looking pages wedged between its usual black-and-white comics. Crazy (1974) and ultra-niche quarterly Girls & Corpses (2011) were even lazier, promising parodic goodies on their covers they failed to deliver inside. Ditto the two issues of Laffboy (1965) and one-shot Bleep (1974), oversized pulps with tired gags and bubble-captioned photo trying to pass as sophisticated satire. They’re mentioned here mainly as a warning. New-Age satire sheet Wings tried harder, devoting about a third of its March-April 1979 issue to “Playwings,” but most of the parody was typical Wings content poured into a barely modified layout; like “Playduck,” it failed to sweat the details.

Annie Fanny spoof from 73 magazine

Wayne Pierce’s ham-flavored tribute to Annie Fanny in “73” (1966).

73 Magazine was a technical monthly for ham radio buffs that ran from 1960 to 2003. Founder Wayne Green had soft spot for parody, and in April 1966 he ran a Playboy-like cover by reader Wayne Pierce, a high-school art teacher in Kansas City. Pierce also did four of the parody’s five inside pages, including a takeoff of “Little Annie Fanny” set in the world of ham radio obsessives. Pierce was no threat to Will Elder in the art department, but he’d obviously studied Harvey Kurtzman’s page layouts and storytelling rhythm; the fact that his hobby-specific jokes will sound like gibberish to most current readers is a surrealistic bonus.

Ironically, National Lampoon’s decline overlapped with the Great Parody Boom of the ’80s, whose harbingers were NL’s own “Dacron Republican-Democrat” in February 1978 and former NL editor Tony Hendra’s “Not The New York Times” that October. They were followed by scores of parodies of newspapers and magazines, including two of Playboy, one edited by Hendra, the other by his former collaborator Robert Vare.

Hendra and Vare had worked together on “NTNYT” and jointly edited the first “Off The Wall Street Journal,” which sold 350,000 copies in 1982 but showed only a tiny profit. After the two parted ways, Vare founded American Parody & Travesty Co. to produce a series of one-shot spoofs starting with “Playbore,” while Hendra became creative director on “Playboy: The Parody” for TSM Publishing, an offshoot of a marketing firm cofounded by former NatLamp publisher Gerald Taylor. Hendra recruited old associates David Kaestle, Danny Abelson and Rick Meyerowitz for “PTP,” which had led some sources to mislabel it an official National Lampoon publication. In fact, at least as many NL vets worked on “Playbore,” including Chris Miller, Jeff Greenfield and Ellis Weiner. (Bruce McCall somehow got into both.) George Plimpton, Roy Blount Jr., and soon-to-be Spy founders Kurt Andersen and Graydon Carter also had a hand in “Playbore,” while “PTP’s” stable included writer David Owen and Items From Our Catalog creator Alfred Gingold.

Three pages from Playbore

“Playbore” features, including a jab at Hef’s rivals Larry Flynt and Bob Guccione (center).

“Playbore” hit the stands in late September, two months before its rival, but in most respects “Playboy: The Parody” came out slightly ahead. It cost a dollar more, carried 29 pages of real ads to “Playbore’s” six, and better captured the look and tone of Playboy circa 1983, likely because it gained Hefner’s approval and used several of his photographers and models. Not surprisingly, it treated Hef and his empire relatively gently, while “Playbore” made running jokes of “Hugh M. Hepner’s” galloping senility, shrinking assets and eyebrow-raising decision to turn the business over to his daughter — a step the real Hefner had taken the year before. Its foldout showed “Crispie Hepner” lounging in a soapy bath as a certain pipe-smoking editor-publisher massaged her shoulders. “Playboy: The Parody” countered with a full-frontal fake of Princess Diana, which prompted a boycott by distributors in the U.K.

Four pages from Playboy the Parody

DIY pinups, Bruce McCall’s cars, JFK in ’63 and Annie as Grannie in “Playboy: The Parody.”

Sales of both parodies were good but not spectacular. Early on, Vare predicted “Playbore” might sell over a million copies; results were closer to 750,000. Taylor initially hoped “Playboy: The Parody” would do better than the Harvard Lampoon’s “Cosmopolitan,” which had sold a record 1.2 million copies in 1972, but TSM never announced final numbers; press runs for its later spoofs, including “Cosmoparody” (1984) and “Parody People” (1986), were around 750,000 copies each.

U.S. parodists mostly abandoned Playboy after ’83, as did many readers — circulation fell by a third during the 1980s — but Canada’s Thomas Hagey struck gold in 1984 with “The Best of Playboar,” a porcine entry in the then-hot subgenre of parodies starring animals. Hagey (pronounced “haig-y,” not “hoggy,” unfortunately) grew up on a pig farm in Kitchener, Ontario, and quit school after 10th grade. In 1977 he founded Playboar as a semi-serious annual for swine breeders, “about two-thirds information, like how to pick a good pig or what to do about nipple problems, and about one-third humor,” he told the Chicago Tribune. A switch to quarterly publication in 1980 didn’t work out, so he closed the mag and moved to Toronto. There he and editor Chris Lowry rendered Playboar’s six issues into a 56-page greatest-hits collection, which was issued simultaneously or thereabouts in Canada and the U.S. in 1984.

Three pages from "Playboar"

“Playboar’s” contents page and Littermate Taffy Lovely.

Disappointingly, “The Best of Playboar” bears little resemblance to Hefner’s vision — and not just because its cover girl/Littermate’s measurements are 24-26-22. In fact, the pictorial on fetching Taffy Lovely is one of the few features that follows Playboy’s format closely. Most other pages would look just at home in Self or Us or any other ’80s title with colorful text blocks and off-kilter photos. In contrast, Hagey and Lowry’s full-page ads for “Benson & Hedgehogs,” “Mudweiser” and other accoutrements of fine swine living are accurate to the last detail. Maybe, not having sought the Big Bunny’s approval, they decided to steer wide of trespassing on any trademarks.

And maybe more readers are into pigs than parody: When first published, “The Best of Playboar” sold some 300,000 copies. Reprints pushed total sales over a million, making “BoP” the best-selling Playboy parody ever. This past June, Hagey published an enlarged edition in Canada, “The Very Best of Playboar,” bringing swinish behavior into the Age of Weinstein and Trump.

The following census is divided into two categories: issue-length newsstand specials (all at least 40 pages long), and shorter features in other publications. Cover-only and single-article parodies are so marked; as are the dates on parodies of back issues. Each listing contains the work’s title (in quotes), publisher or publication, date and page count (in parentheses). Stand-alone parodies that don’t count covers as pages are marked “+ 4.”

Playboy Parodies II: On U.S. Newsstands, 1957-2018

A. Stand-alone Parodies:

“Plowboy.” Bannister Publications, Spring 1957 (48 + 4)
“Punch Goes Playboy.” [reprint of 1971 U.K. parody with new ads]. Punch, 1972 (44 + 4)
“Playbore.” American Travesty and Parody, Fall 1983 (98)
“Playboy: The Parody.” Taylor-Shain Media, Winter 1984 (102 + 4)
—–. partly reprinted in What a Pair, Taylor-Shain Media, 1985 (40 + 38 pages of TSM’s “Cosmoparody”)
“The Best of Playboar,” by Thomas Hagey. Day Dream Publishing, Santa Barbara, Cal., 1984 (56 + 4)
—–. Firefly Books (U.S.) Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., 1996 (56 + 4)
“The Very Best of Playboar: Special Hardcover Edition,” by Thomas Hagey. Playboar Publishing, 2018 (84) [available in the U.S. on Kindle]

Four parodies from Esquire and National Lampoon

Single-feature spoofs from Esquire (1965, 1969) and National Lampoon (both 1982)

B. Parodies in Magazines:

“Playkid,” Mad #61, March 1961 (7)
“Laffboy,” KMR Publications, Feb. 1965 (COVER ONLY)
“Laffboy,”KMR Publications, Apr. 1965 (COVER ONLY)
“Playbore,” Sick, June 1965 (12)
“I, Playboy, take thee, Reader’s Digest…,” Esquire, Aug. 1965 (1)
73 magazine cover“73,” 73 Magazine, April 1966 (5 + 1)
“Boysplay,” Biggest, Greatest Cracked #4, 1968 (16)
“Liberated Front,” National Lampoon [article], April 1970 (8)
“Esquire Interview: Hugh M. Hefner” [article], Esquire, Dec. 1970 (3+)
“Gamma Hutch: The Playboy Fallout Shelter” (Dec. 1958) [article], National Lampoon, April 1972 (4)
“Playdead,” National Lampoon, Jan. 1973 (14)
“Bleep,” Bleep Publications, 1974 (COVER ONLY)
“Playboy” [obscured], Crazy #10, April 1975 (COVER ONLY)
“Playboy [in Cyrillic]: New Soviet Edition,” Playboy, Jan. 1977 (7)
“Playwings,” Wings, March/April 1979 (20? + 1)
“Playboy: New Chinese Edition,” Playboy, Sept. 1979 (7)
“Playduck,” Howard the Duck magazine #4, March 1980 (8 + 1)
“Parents of the Girls of the Eastwest Conference” [article], National Lampoon, Feb. 1982 (2)
“The Playboy Advisor” [article], National Lampoon, Feb. 1982 (1)
“Dear Playmates” [article], National Lampoon, June 1983 (1)
“Playboy” (November 1963), in “Playboy: The Parody,” Winter 1984 (15 + 1-page intro)
“Prayboy: Entertainment for Far-Righteous Men,” Playboy, Dec. 1984 (8)
“Slayboy,” National Lampoon, Dec. 1985 (8)
“Playbyte,” National Lampoon, Feb. 1988 (10)
“Feminist Party Jokes” [article], National Lampoon, March 1986 (1)
“Interview: Steven Spielberg” [article], National Lampoon, Aug. 1986 (3+)
“Playboy” (Jan. 1000 A.D.), Playboy, Jan. 2000 (4)
“Girls & Corpses,” issue # 5, Spring 2011 (COVER ONLY)

— VCR (updated 12/11/18)

Playboy Parodies 1: College, 1955-1989

Twelve collegiate Playboy parodies.

Parodies by Penn State Froth, Harvard Lampoon, Clemson Chronicle, NYU Vulture, MIT Voo Doo, Purdue Engineer, Purdue Rivet, Cal Pelican, Annapolis Log, Tulane Urchin, Amherst Sabrina, West Point Pointer.

Parodies of Playboy fall roughly into two groups and two eras: those created by college students, mostly in the 1950s and ’60s, and those done by commercial publishers, mostly in the ’70s and ’80s. The catalyst for the shift was the Harvard Lampoon’s “Pl*yb*y,” a glossy, 102-page spoof that sold more than half a million copies in the fall of 1966. Its production values — including a full-color centerfold of a real, live naked lady — were impressive enough to discourage most amateurs, while its success on newsstands showed the pros there were Big Bucks to be had from this parody thing. This post deals with ersatz Playboys produced at U.S. colleges and universities; the next will tackle commercial and foreign specimens.

Illinois Chaff, 1958.

In its 20th Anniversary issue, Playboy boasted of being “parodied more often than any other magazine in the world.” I’m not sure that’s true (see here), but there’s no question it was the most parodied magazine on campus from its birth in 1953 until the Lampoon shattered the backboard in ’66. “Every year college publications across the nation issue one best issue, … usually a parody of a national magazine,” the Illinois Chaff said in 1958. “When the artists and writers of Chaff looked around for a publication to parody, they didn’t have to look far. Leading the newsstand derby by miles was a publication which college men use as a yardstick of sophistication and urban living.”

The attraction ran both ways: Playboy founder Hugh Hefner had edited Chaff’s predecessor Shaft in the late ’40s, and his new magazine — with its cartoons, girls of the month, and focus on liquor, love and laughs — was in many ways a college humor mag writ large. Not too large, however: A typical Playboy from the mid-’50s had fewer than 80 pages, used color sparingly and carried little advertising. A talented college staff could produce a pretty good likeness on the cheap, which wasn’t the case with Esquire or Life or the Ladies’ Home Journal — or Playboy itself a few years later.

Cover of 1955 Arizona Playgirl

Arizona Kitty Kat, 1955.

From the start, Playboy had a soft spot for parodies. The Arizona Kitty Kat’s April 1955 “Playgirl,” which may have been the first, opened by thanking Playboy for permission to copy its format and style, a favor later extended to dozens of campus copycats. Playboy gave the Lampoon so much help with “Pl*yb*y” it was practically a co-publisher: “We cold-called Hefner to ask his permission,” the Lampoon’s Henry Beard recalled. “Not only does he say he’d love to have it parodied, but he says, ‘I’ll arrange for you to use my printing plant. I will tell them that you’re solid citizens. And all you guys have to do is make sure you get signatures from some of your rich graduates on the bill to make sure we don’t get stiffed.’”

Such help carried a few strings: “We must be afforded the opportunity to review the layout and art work of the cover in final form so that we can be certain that the parody will not be confused with the real McCoy,” Playboy’s William M. Klein wrote the Lampoon, adding that the parody should “maintain the standards heretofore evidenced by products of the Harvard Lampoon. It is only because of our high regard for your standards that the permission which you have requested is being granted. We would not wish material from the parody reprinted in non-prestigious or competitive publications.”

Cover and pages from Yale's 1958 Ployboy

Cover girl for “Ployboy” was Yale Drama student Carrie Nye, who also graced an inside feature.

Most of the early parodies are pure emulation, sometimes with a twist. Three are called “Playgirl” and display men dressed either scantily or to the nines. The former are usually hairy and unkempt and not at all sexy. (Sometimes the only way to get skin past a censor is to play it for laughs.) Elsewhere, centerfolds ranged from rag dolls to rabbits; those that featured actual women tended to display them either clothed or carefully cropped. The left third of Chaff’s “Payboy” foldout showed an attractive model’s legs; readers who opened it found a black rectangle blocking the rest of her. The Yale Record’s 1958 “Ployboy” replaced most of its centerfold with a (genuine?) letter from the printer explaining that plates for a three-page, full-color photo would cost a budget-busting $1,480.

Cover and three pages from Texas Ranger's 1963 Playbull

Gilbert Shelton spoofed Annie Fanny and Jules Feiffer in the Texas Ranger’s 1963 “Playbull.”

The Record was one of several college comics to spoof Playboy twice, but the most prolific parodist wasn’t a magazine but a yearbook. In 1959, the editors of La Ventana at Texas Tech split its contents into eight separately printed sections made up to resemble popular magazines and packaged them in a three-ring binder: “Tyme” focused on the year’s major events, “Mademoiselle” on sororities, and so on, with “Playboy” handling social life and fraternities. A few titles changed over the years, but “Playboy” was in the mix every year through 1973, when the format was dropped. La Ventana’s “Playboys” were about 10 percent parody and 90 percent standard yearbook, but what little spoofing they did, they did well, especially the covers and foldouts.

Covers and foldouts from three yearbooks.

Yearbook pinups from South Carolina (1974), Kansas Med School (1969) and Texas Tech (1969).

The same is true of the Garnet and Black at the University of South Carolina, which picked up the parody torch from Texas Tech. Its 1974 and ’75 editions spoofed eight mags including National Lampoon, Ms. and Southern Living. The G&B called its version of Playboy “Carolinamen,” possibly to avoid riling local bluenoses, but the resemblance was unmissable. The 1969 Jayhawker M.D., a.k.a. “Playdoc,” from the Kansas Med School is the only attempt I know of to extend a Playboy spoof through an entire yearbook. Its 200-plus pages featured two foldouts, one of which could almost pass for the real thing (above).

Addis apes Wilson in “Peelboy.”

The best of the collegiate parodies mocked the Playboy lifestyle even as they copied it. “We considered ourselves serious satirists with a sense of fun, not just naughty fellows,” recalled Frank Stack, who edited the Texas Ranger’s second parody in 1963. “[We] aspired to the kind of authoritative satire of the New Yorker and Punch, rather than the sophomoric tone of Playboy.” Stack (a.k.a. “Foolbert Sturgeon”) and Wonder Wart-Hog creator Gilbert Shelton gave the Ranger’s takeoff some of the sass and irreverence they brought to underground comics. Their “Playbull,” the UCLA Satyr’s 1964 “Preyboy” (edited by Harry Shearer) and the Lampoon’s “Pl*yb*y” are the most fun to reread today. Highlights elsewhere include Don Addis’s cartoons in the Florida Orange Peel’s “Peelboy,” the photobombed fashion spread in the Cal Pelican’s “Peliboy,” and the backtalk to the Playboy Advisor in the Amherst Sabrina’s “Playboy” — which somehow got away with not altering the name.

Not everyone appreciated these homages. Administrators found the Wisconsin Octopus’s 1959 “Blayboy” so offensive they made it Octy’s last issue. The Stanford Chaparral and its grad-student editor Bradley Efron were both suspended over 1961’s “Layboy,” the editor for two quarters, the mag indefinitely. “They got me on sacrilege,” Efron said then. “The thing that did it was a Ribald Classic version of the Nativity. The University was flooded with protests from the local clergy. … It was my first issue. It was a little dirty, but no dirtier than previous issues. We sold about twice as many issues as usual, though. You can’t get anybody to part with his copy now.” Fortunately, both magazine and editor were back by the end of the year; Efron eventually became Professor of Statistics at Stanford and in 1983 was awarded a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

The most recent kerfuffle came in 1989, when the Log at the U.S. Naval Academy put out a “Playmid” that featured midshipmen’s girlfriends in bathing suits. Decrying “sexual stereotyping,” Academy superintendent Virgil Hill Jr. ordered all 5,000 copies destroyed. About a hundred weren’t, and one made its way to Playboy, which reprinted excerpts in September 1989. “Destroy 5,000 copies, end up with 18,000,000 readers,” Playboy wrote. “That’s the lesson in censorship.” The Log may have learned a different lesson: There had been at least three previous parodies of Playboy at Annapolis, but there hasn’t been one since.

Nor has there been one anywhere else, as far as I’ve found. Apart from the Lampoon, few current college mags have the money or resources to parody slick national magazines. Even if they did, they wouldn’t target Playboy, which now has one-tenth its 1970s circulation and hasn’t been a yardstick of sophistication for decades.

Covers of 6 Playboy parodies

Pseudo Playboys from Texas (1956), Florida (1959), Wisconsin (1959); Stanford (1961), U. Mass-Amherst (1964) and UCLA (1964); at right, the covers they copied.

This inventory is surely incomplete, but it contains all the college parodies of Playboy I know of. (For some, their existence is all I know of.)  I’ve tried to include school name, parody-issuing publication (in italics), parody title (in quotes), date and page count (in parentheses) in each listing. Parodies that don’t include front and back covers in their page numbering are marked “+ 4.” (FYI, the “+ 8” for the 1958 “Ployboy” isn’t a typo; it was distributed behind a second cover with the Yale Record nameplate to pacify the Post Office.)  The word “in” before a date means the issue’s front cover wasn’t part of the parody; “no cover” and “article” denote parodies that don’t begin with fake covers. As always, I’d welcome additions and corrections.

Playboy Parodies I: College, 1955-1989

A. By Magazines

Princeton's 1955 Placebo.

Princeton Tiger, 1955.

1950s:
Princeton Tiger: “Placebo,” 1955
Arizona Kitty Kat: “Playgirl,” April 1955 (36 pages)
Oregon State Beaver Dam: “Beaver Dam,” Dec. 1955 (28)
Indiana Crimson Bull: “Playbull,” March 1956 (28)
Texas Ranger: “Playgirl,” March 1956 (36 + 4)
Penn State Froth: “Playgirl,” April 1956 (64)
Purdue Rivet: “Playbouy,” May 1956 (32 + 4c)
Michigan Gargoyle: “Plowboy,” Nov. 1956
Tulane Urchin: “Gayboy,” c. 1956-57
Babson Inst. Beaver: “Playbeaver,” c. 1956-58
Cornell Widow: “Play Boy,” Dec. 1957 (36)
Yale Record: “Ployboy,” Feb. 1958 (86 + 8)
Ohio U. Green Goat: “Pla_boy,” March 1958 (40)
Illinois Chaff: “Payboy,” May 1958 (32 + 4)
NYU Vulture: “Payboy,” [spring] 1959
Annapolis LogSplinter: “Playbouy,” April 10, 1959
Florida Orange Peel: “Peelboy,” May 1959 (44 + 4)
Wisconsin Octopus: “Blayboy,” May 1959

1960s:
Penn State Froth: “Playboy,” April 1961 (38 + 4)
Amherst Sabrina: “Playboy,” May 1961 (24 + 4)
Stanford Chaparral: “Layboy,” June 1961 (60 + 4)
Cornell Widow: “Gayboy,” March 1962
Texas Ranger: “Playbull,” March 1963 (40 + 4)
California Pelican: “Parody,” in May 1963 (13, no cover)
Yale Record: “Pwayboy,” Feb. 1964 (52 + 4)
UCLA Satyr: “Preyboy,” June 1964 (38 + 4)
U. Mass-Amherst Yahoo: “Preyboy,” June 1964 (40 + 4)
MIT Voo Doo: “Gayboy,” Feb. 1965 (36 + 4)
West Point Pointer: “Prayboy,” March 26, 1965 (32 + 4)
California Pelican: “Playgoy’s Handy Guide to Successful Summer Seduction” (article), in May 1965 (5)
Clemson Chronicle: “Plowboy,” May 1965 (36 + 4)
Stanford Chaparral: “Layboy,” June 1965 (56 + 4)
California Pelican: “Peliboy,” May 1966 (56 + 4)
Princeton Tiger“Placebo”, May 1966
Harvard Lampoon: “Pl*yb*y,” Fall 1966 (102 + 4)
Annapolis Log: “Log,” April 18, 1969

1970s on:
Purdue Engineer: “Playboy Engineer,” March 1970 (34 + 4)
Emory Spoke: “Playbod,” March 1979
Northwestern Rubber Teeth: “The Girls of the Midwestern Schools With Ridiculously High Tuition and Habitually Defeated Football Teams” (article), in Spring 1980 (2)
Annapolis Log: “Playmid,” March 1984
Hofstra Nonsense: “Playdoh,” in Nov. 1988 (5)
Emory Spoke: “Playspoke,” Dec. 1988
Annapolis Log: “Playmid,” March 1989

B. In Yearbooks

Texas Tech La Ventana, “Playboy,” 1959-1973
Kansas Med. School Jayhawker, “Playdoc,” 1969
U. of South Carolina Garnet and Black, “Carolinamen,” 1974-75

— VCR (updated 11/13/19)

 

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.

The Yale Record’s “Smut,” 1951.

Cover and page 2 of Yale Record's Smut

Cover and page 2 of the Yale Record’s “Smut.”

 

Parody Of: Various girly mags. Title: “Smut.” Parody By: Yale Record.
Date: February 1951. Format: 16 tabloid-size newsprint pages in slick covers, stapled.
Contributors: None credited, but the 1950-51 Record Board included Walter J. Hunt (Chairman), Richard C. Lemon (Managing Editor) and Denver Lindley, Jr. (Art Editor).
Availability: Very hard to find; excerpted in College Parodies, pages 239-251.

February 1951 Yale Record cover“Smut,” which appeared as an oversized insert in the February 1951 Yale Record, might strike current readers as a general spoof of early-’50s newsstand sleazery. In fact, it faithfully apes a short-lived subset of men’s mags with names like Hit!, See, Laff and other punchy monosyllables. These titles borrowed their size and format from Life and sometimes claimed to be picture newsmagazines, but their true forebears were the Police Gazette and interwar gags-and-gals books like Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang and the Calgary Eye-Opener. Their habitats were all-male environments like barber shops and fraternity houses, and their main draws were pictorials centered on the doings of strippers, bathing beauties, lingerie models and other females willing to show some leg. Such educational features were surrounded by dubious mail-order ads, suggestive cartoons, he-man tales of the “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” variety and shocking exposes of the Rich and Famous. All but the cartoons are gleefully mocked in “Smut.”

Covers of Hit, Night and Day, See and Taboo

The real things: Hit!, Night and Day, See and Taboo.

The Record normally disdained the crude sexual humor found in most of its non-Ivy contemporaries, but it loosened up a bit in parody issues; hence “Smut’s” inclusion of a feature called “Model Makes Good,” credited to a reporter named “Henry Good.” (Groan.) The puns are no better in an eyewitness report on the “Man-Eating She-Devils of Yukuku,” but they blend with the story’s non sequiturs and B-movie clichés to form a rich stew of collegiate nonsense.

Smut's man-eating she-devil story

A look “Backstage at the Smokahavana” (a nod to New York’s Copacabana) serves as the obligatory nightclub feature. Its chorines are a bit too fresh-faced and fully clothed to pass for hard-bitten showgirls, but the leering captions supply a depravity missing from the photos: Asked if she’s adjusting her falsies, hard-bitten “Fifi” answers, “Whaddaya think? I’m packin’ a lunch?”

Pages from Smut and Laff magazines

Nightlife as seen by Smut (top) and the real March 1951 Laff (below).

Within a few years of “Smut’s” appearance, most of its targets had fallen victim to changing tastes and increased specialization. The success of Confidential, founded 1952 by girlie-mag veteran Robert Harrison, sparked a trend that soon glutted the market for celebrity dirt. Meanwhile, dozens of new titles like Stag, Male, Man to Man and Men supplied vicarious thrills for WWII vets now juggling kids and mortgage payments.

The fatal blow came with the rise of Playboy, whose sophisticated airs and carefully retouched foldouts made the “candid” black-and-white shots in See and its ilk look both low-rent and prudish. The girlie pulps found themselves boxed in: too vulgar for respectable outlets and advertisers, too tame for fans of hard-core raunch. By the time “Smut” was anthologized in 1961’s College Parodies, the type of barbershop reading it satirized had gone the way of the 25-cent haircut. — VCR

College Parodies (Ballentine Books, 1961)

Ad for College Parodies

A full-page ad from 1961.

Book: College Parodies (New York: Ballantine Originals, 1961).
By: Will and Martin Lieberson (editors). Pages: 254.
Parodies Of: See below. Availability: Easy to find online.

I know of only three anthologies of magazine and newspaper parodies, and two of them have the word “lampoon” in their titles.* The third is Will and Martin Lieberson’s College Parodies, a mass-market paperback released by Ballantine Books in 1961 at the then-outrageous price of 75 cents. It’s long out of print, but abebooks.com has dozens from under $4 to over $30. If you’re at all interested in the subject, you should own it.

Stanford's Pest and College Parodies' reprint

Stanford’s “Pest” re(pro)duced in College Parodies.

True to its name, College Parodies contains extracts from over two dozen of the things, all published between 1939 and 1959. (There are also comic-strip parodies, many from the Stanford Chaparral’s annual “Crash Comics.”) The book’s only serious flaw is its pulp-paper, pocket-size, black-and-white format, which can’t do justice to works like the Chaparral’s “Saturday Evening Pest.” Other selections range from the Yale Record’s famous “Daily News” of 1946 — which received high praise and two pages of free publicity in Life — to local efforts by the Ohio Green Goat and Lafayette Marquis. The Liebersons don’t say why they chose these particular examples, nor do they say much else: There’s no preface or introduction, and only minimal copyright info. To remedy this, here’s …

College Parodies coverWho Did Whom in College Parodies:

Cover covers (top row, from left): Yale Record, 1959; Illinois Chaff, 1958; Denison Campus, 1954; Columbia Jester, 1956; Harvard Lampoon, 1956; (second row) Yale Record, 1955; Columbia Jester, 1948; Stanford Chaparral, 1955; Stanford Chaparral, 1957; (third row) Pennsylvania Highball, c. 1955; Columbia Jester, 1952; Stanford Chaparral, 1959; Yale Record, 1951. (All but Highball’s “Pest” are excerpted inside.)

  • Ladies Home Journal: Columbia Jester, May 1952  (pages 17-32).
  • Look: Stanford Chaparral, Mar. 9, 1955 (33-43, 46-49), Cornell Widow (44-45).
  • Saturday Review: Columbia Jester, May 1956 (51-62)
  • Sports Illustrated: Yale Record, Feb. 1959 (63-65, 70-73); Lafayette Marquis (66-69); Illinois Chaff (70).
  • Holiday: Stanford Chaparral, April 1957 (75-87).
  • New York Daily News: Yale Record, Dec. 1946 (88-98).
  • The New Yorker: Yale Record, Feb. 1956 (99); Michigan Gargoyle, March 1955; Harvard Lampoon, May 15, 1948.
  • True: Stanford Chaparral, April 1959 (115-116, 124-126); Yale Record, [?]  (117-123 [?]); Purdue Rivet (127); Michigan Gargoyle (128-129).
  • Confidential: Syracuse Syracusan, Feb. 1957 (131-142).
  • Life: Columbia Jester, May 14, 1948, reprinted Aug. 15, 1948 (143-153, 156-58).
  • Playboy: Illinois Chaff, March 1958 (167-68, 174-79, “Careless” on 181); Cornell Widow, Dec. 1957 (169-73, “Sticky” on 181); Ohio Green Goat, Jan. 1956 [sic; really Jan. 1957] (182).
  • Time: Ohio State Sundial, May 24, 1958 (183, “Letter” on 185); Cornell Widow, April 1958 (184-187); Florida Orange Peel, undated [1958] (188).
  • Saturday Evening Post: Stanford Chaparral, March 10, 1954 (189-199, 202); California Pelican, Nov. 1958 (203-204).
  • Reader’s Digest: Columbia Jester, 1949 (205-16).
  • Esquire: Yale Record, Feb. 1955 (217-19, 222-30).
  • Newsweek: Harvard Lampoon, March 22, 1956 (231-38).
  • “Smut” (generic men’s mag): Yale Record, Feb. 1951 (239-51).

— VCR
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* 100 Years of Harvard Lampoon Parodies (Harvard Lampoon, 1976), and National Lampoon Magazine Rack (National Lampoon Press, 2008).