Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I've heard Mad Magazine referred to in many ways. Mostly "ridiculous", "Trash Rag", or any other derogatory term my mother could throw at my sister and I when we insisted on reading them at the library or managed to bring one home. I have not, until recently, considered it more like an "art magazine."
MAD is mostly populated by comics, satirical articles, and rather rich illustrations such as the one above by Richard Williams, who has done many covers and satirical, even parody pieces for the magazine. The most effective feature of the piece is not simply that it is satirical, but that it is made well. For an image like this to work, the piece needs to be able to function on it's own as a classic art work, not just something that pokes fun against one.
I'm always up for the Spy vs. Spy comics, the hidden image fold on the inner back cover, and the small doodles found on virtually every page, scribbled lovingly in the margins. But these larger pieces were always my favourite part of going through an issue of MAD. Parody, comedy, and a general sense of humor about yourself is an important thing to have in any culture. Art is one of the most effective ways to put that sense of humor out into the world. Mad magazine, along side political cartoons and satirical writing, are some of the most enjoyable things in the world of media, and often, more important than we give them credit for.