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Today's Video Links

Here we have a 1987 story on CBS's 60 Minutes taking note of the 35th anniversary of MAD Magazine. These pieces always have a tendency to make it seem like the publication is written and drawn by the guys in the office. No one else is mentioned. You briefly see Mort Drucker painting but he is not identified. The history of MAD is discussed with no mention of Harvey Kurtzman or Al Feldstein. It was the same way when reporters visited the Marvel offices in the sixties: Articles and segments that made it seem like Stan Lee wrote and drew everything with at most, the occasional assist from unnamed people.

You'll hear founding publisher Bill Gaines talk about, among other things, why MAD doesn't accept advertising. He was probably sincere in his reasoning but I've spent much of my life around MAD people and heard other things. Gaines was a very eccentric man who had all sorts of (some would say:) odd quirks and it's interesting how so many of those quirks impacted the contents of the magazine. He craved, for instance, a sense of "family" around him. It kept the same guys drawing for MAD for decades to the general exclusion of new people. He was compulsive about certain kinds of orderliness — like, he had the canned soups at home in his kitchen cabinet alphabetized and liked to see his magazine have some of the same kind of predictability in contents.

He kept the staff small and, for him, manageable and didn't allow MAD even at its sales peak to go from eight-issues-per-year to monthly. Why? Because that would have meant bringing in new people, expanding the "family" and him either working harder or delegating duties. His reluctance to ads in MAD may have been a matter of the principles he states but it also may have flowed from a compulsion to keep MAD small and of not wanting to deal with outsiders. He also says in the piece that MAD shuns merchandising. He shunned some and accepted some…and the shunning always seemed to me, at least in part, to be a matter of, again, shying away from those outsiders. He was then making good money without ads or merchandising and just didn't want the headaches. Here's the 1987 piece…

And now, here's CBS News coverage from last Sunday, noting the 60th anniversary. This is for those of you who might enjoy seeing John Ficarra age. I think, for what it's worth, that the writing in MAD is now as sharp as it's ever been. It sells nowhere near as well as it once did but that's pretty much true of all magazines…