It's no secret times are tough for traditional publishers, whether you're talking newspapers, books or magazines. Still this headline from Rolling Stone hit me like a bolt out of the blue:
‘Mad Magazine’ Is Effectively Shutting Down
Classic humor publication will cease printing new content this fall
Holy Alfred E. Neuman, Batman -- say it ain't so.
Like many other Baby Boomers, and admirers from other generations, Mad Magazine was a staple when I grew up. Whether it was the latest satire on a TV show or movie, or another episode of "Spy vs. Spy," I couldn't wait for the next issue.
It even inspired my own half-baked attempts at writing humor, including a cartoon I created for which I was particularly proud. So proud, I cajoled my parents for a stamp and envelope so I could submit to the Mad editors for their consideration.
While drawing is not my thing, I thought they would go for the obviously clever premise. At that time, Japanese monster movies -- like "Godzilla" and "Rodan" -- were all the rage. So I came up with this six-panel cartoon depicting a giant egg in a cave. As the natives look on, the egg begins to crack. In each panel, the crack gets bigger, until finally, in the last panel, it bursts open and this giant yolk flows out instead of a menacing beast.
Well, some weeks later a letter arrived bearing the "Mad" logo. I could hardly contain my excitement!
Opening it with trembling hands, the very first sentence said simply, "You've been rejected."
Like all great and would-be great and might-never-be great writers, I finally came to terms that rejection letters are part of the process.
But it didn't stop me from continuing to buy the magazine. In fact, I kept that letter as inspiration for many, many years, until it got lost in one of our moves.
Mad got its start in 1952, and reached its peak circulation of two million in 1974. While I bemoan its fate, I have to admit my own guilt: I haven't bought a copy in many years. And that's how magazines go out of business.
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."