This year marks the 60th anniversary of MAD Magazine and editor John Ficarra took a moment to talk to us about Totally MAD, the longevity of a MAD sense of humor and the right artwork to use for wrapping fish.
I’ve heard about this [60th Anniversary book that Ficarra was holding) and I’m excited to take a look at it. Sixty years – can you give me a quick overview of the book?
John Ficarra: We had no plans to do this but Time Home Entertainment came to us and said, “Would you like to do the book for your 60th?” and we said “That’d be great!” I didn’t realize what a heartbreak this book would be. MAD has done over 26 thousand pages of material. This book is 256 pages. So, I had to leave out a ton of great stuff. In fact, I wrote in the back – I wrote an afterword where I spoke about that. And this book, I tried to represent MAD on a lot of different levels. I tried to represent all of the talent that’s been at MAD – going back to Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder to the current staff of Drew Friedman and people like that. I tried to make it a pop culture store – so you could see in every decade what the popular movies were, what the popular TV shows, what the language was like, what the fashion was like. And then I also tried to do it from a political point of view, because MAD does a lot of politics. So, you can pretty much take an American history course – albeit through a funhouse mirror – an American history course if you buy the book.
The other great thing about the book is it’s relatively inexpensive and in the back there are what we call “The Soul of MAD” – prints of 12 of our classic covers that Bill Gaines and I picked out years ago, including the very first Alfred E. Newman and some of the others like Alfred as the Scarecrow and things like that. So, they’re suitable for framing – or wrapping fish, as we like say.
The other thing the book has is, if you go through it, it has every cover we’ve ever done running along the bottom. And the stock is just wonderful. It’s really a great paper so it showcases the art terrifically – much more so than the toilet paper we printed on for so many years. And it’s slightly oversized, so the book is bigger than a MAD page, so you get to see the art even better.
And the last thing is, I hired Frank Jacobs to write a series of essays about the questions we’re most asked: Who is Alfred E. Newman? Have you ever been sued? The MAD trips? Who was Bill Gaines? What is MAD like after Bill Gaines died? So, he wrote terrific essays, he dug up some old photos that many people haven’t seen to accompany the essays – so there’s a lot in the book and you can preorder it now at MadMagazine.com.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP