It was a mad, Mad afternoon when Robin McConnell, MK Reed and I dropped into the Mad Office. Assistant Art Director and comics consumer Ryan Flanders reluctantly fell for my charms and agreed to a tour even though their deadline loomed large a few days later (hey, we don't want to impede a dying medium, right?). Even the guards had a cute shtick that took 5 minutes of my life and a humorless person would have left. Luckily, that's not me.
Ryan started off the tour by showing us his first office at MAD, it's near the door, pretty cold but looks a bit similar to mine at Fantagraphics.
The MADtropolitan Museum of Art showed off some of the best and brightest of recent hilarious paintings, complete in their gold gilded plastic frames melted down from the plastic noses and vintage glasses frames of the cancelled shows The Real Housewives of Jersey and Williamsburg.
The props display case was amazing from Gutrot which I've definitely drank and Spy vs Spy toilet paper. Photoshop ain't got nothing on printed, folded and glued cardboard.
Everyone else in the office was just as charming, waiting for the day their piles of tchotchkies bury them. Art Director (and a cartoonist himself) Sam Viviano showed off some amazing original artwork and Sculpey sculptures created for photo-shoots. Check out that DREW FRIEDMAN drawing over Ryan's shoulder.
The Wall of Artists is tagged anytime a Mad-contributing creator stops by the office. Nate Neal (who created Sanctuary) was on the board. Many of our creators worked at or for MAD like Al Feldstein, Jack Davis, Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman and Noah Van Sciver to name a few.
One of my favorite props was an actual headstone used as a support structure in the office created for a back cover thanks to a Feldstein/Gaines joke.
Ryan's new office turned out to be a nightmare, so well organized I made a mental note to courier him a spring-loaded box of trash upon my return home.
Like any good office the mail room is actually where all the good stuff is located (at Fantagraphics, our fridge is in there). Snuggled among packing materials and one hell of a cutting board are sexy flat files full of Al Jaffee, Tom Bunk — EVEN a Tom Fowler, internet friend.
LOOK at this Al Jaffee fold-in drawing. My dream is to have one printed SOMEDAY, SOMEHOW instead of lamely attaching my fold-in to the magazine and tricking my friends into thinking it was actually printed in the magazine.
Jewish Batman, you slay me. That utility belt must have some tasty kosher deserts near the back. (by Al Jaffee)
One beautiful Jack Davis drawing that was REJECTED from the magazine (or Davis decided to redraw) blew me away. The best part was the tattoo "My Mom Loves Me" is infinitely better than Mother tattoos of the world.
In gorgeous ink and the now-illegal duoshade/duotone. Please place your drinks down, Fantagraphics and MAD magazine are not responsible for your spittle shorting out your keyboard.
Despite the slow decline of the magazine industry, MAD magazine has lived on, able to pay cartoonists for their work (wow-za!) and maintain a staff. By raising prices and creating a Mad reading app, they stay current and accessible. MAD's first audience may be a bit gray in the face now as they celebrate their 60th anniversary but continue to wow audiences. As a kid, I didn't have much access to the magazines but my grandmother would buy any books at any yard, church or library sale. Three rooms in their house were lined with built-in-books shelves and in the ‘humor' or comic sections lay the trade paperback editions of MAD (often with the cover ripped off). Ryan was kind enough to explain that most of those were unused comics and many have not been reprinted to this day due to copyright ambiguity. Sounds like something for a legal intern to help them figure out.
As long as parents send kids care packages at camp, people stay overnight in the hospital and Hollywood makes bottom-feeder television and convoluted movies, MAD will reign supreme. Thanks again to Ryan Flanders for the tour, Robin McConnell for some of the photos (there are MILLIONS more here) and MK Reed for the company.